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What is an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Program?


An Operations and Maintenance (O&M) program is a formulated plan of training, cleaning, work practices, and surveillance to maintain asbestos-containing materials (ACM) within buildings in good condition. The goal is to minimize exposure of all building occupants to asbestos fibers.

To accomplish this objective, EPA recommends that an O&M program include work practices to:

  • Maintain ACM in good condition
  • Ensure proper cleanup of asbestos fibers previously released
  • Prevent further releases of asbestos fibers
  • Monitor the condition of ACM

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This guidance is intended solely to help building owners select and apply asbestos management options that are appropriate for their buildings. It is not a substitute for the applicable statutory and regulatory requirements discussed herein, nor is it a regulation itself. State and local regulations may be more stringent than federal regulations. The word "should," as used in this guidance, is intended solely to recommend or suggest and does not connote a requirement.

Who Should Have an O&M Program?

This information is primarily for owners and managers of office buildings, shopping centers, apartment buildings, hospitals, and similar facilities that may contain asbestos materials. It provides building owners, managers, workers, and other key building staff basic information on how to develop and carry out O&M programs for managing asbestos in place.

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Asbestos-Containing Materials Found in Buildings

An effective O&M program should address all types of ACM present in a building. ACM that may be managed as part of an O&M program in buildings can be classified in one of the following categories:

  • Surfacing Material. Examples include ACM sprayed or trowled onto surfaces, such as decorative plaster on ceilings or acoustical ACM on the underside of concrete slabs or decking, or fireproofing materials on structural members.

  • Thermal System Insulation. Examples of this material, also referred to as TSI, include ACM applied to pipes, boilers, tanks, and ducts to prevent heat loss or gain, or condensation.

  • Miscellaneous ACM. Examples include asbestos-containing ceiling or floor tiles, textiles, and other components such as asbestos cement panels, asbestos siding and roofing materials, and electrical and sound insulation materials.

An O&M program, when developed and implemented in a particular facility, should include specific direction on how to deal with each of these categories of ACM. Specified O&M work practices and procedures should be employed by trained personnel during building cleaning, maintenance, renovation, and general operational activities that may involve surfacing, thermal, or miscellaneous ACM. Read more about O&M work practices and procedures.

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O&M Program Project Types

The O&M program can be divided into three types of projects:

  • Those that are unlikely to involve any direct contact with ACM. These projects may involve routine cleaning of shelves and counter tops or other surfaces in a building (provided ACM debris is not present). Generally, such activities would not be expected to disturb ACM.

  • Those that may cause accidental disturbance of ACM. These projects could include maintenance work above a suspended ceiling in an area that may have surfacing ACM overhead.

  • Those that involve relatively small disturbances of ACM. These projects—small-scale, short-duration maintenance, repair, or installation projects involving minor disturbances of ACM—include activities such as installation of new light fixtures on or in an ACM ceiling. A single glovebag operation to remove a small amount of ACM to repair a pipe in a boiler room is another example of intentional small-scale, short-duration disturbance.

Larger projects involving more complex procedures for the intentional removal of ACM are considered asbestos abatement projects. These require asbestos control and abatement procedures that are outside the scope of an O&M program. Building owners should consult and hire trained and accredited asbestos professionals for this type of work.

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