Quickly Removing Dangerous Lead & Asbestos Coatings with Long Reach Scrapers & Low-Vibration Needle Scalers

Train Station Descaling Train

When removing these dangerous coatings from a busy metropolitan rail station, time is of the essence. Workers must be protected from contaminant dust in the air and serious vibration-related injuries related to power tool use. CS Unitec has just the tools for the job: reliable, low-vibration needle scalers allow operators to comfortably work a full shift and get the job done fast.

Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame Paris Transit Station

The highly trafficked Réseau Express Régional (RER) station delivers rail passengers to Notre Dame Cathedral and the Saint-Michel area in the heart of Paris. It opened in 1995 and has helped in shuttling the over 4 million passengers that ride the Paris metro each day.

The Challenge: Maximize Efficiency while Safely Removing Lead & Asbestos Coatings

Contractor DI Environment was responsible for safely removing lead-based paint and an asbestos coating from 52 IPN steel beams within the station, totaling around 22,000 sq. ft. of surface – and they had just a few overnight shifts to do it. Once cleaned to SA 2.5 levels to remove all loose and tightly adhering material, the beams would be re-coated with an intumescent paint for passive fire protection.

Due to hazardous dust containment concerns, surface blasting was not an option for coating removal. This job required a mechanical solution, and the tight timeline left no wiggle room for downtime. The contractor was aware of the significant risk of vibration-related injuries from operating traditional power tools and sought out a solution that would allow operators to comfortably work full shifts while limiting their exposure to levels deemed acceptable by ANSI and European Union standards.

The Solution: Vibro-Lo™ Needle Scalers & Long-Reach “Lite” Scrapers

VL303 Vibro-Lo needle scalers were tailor-made for these types of applications, employing advanced vibration dampening to offset the hammer vibration created when the needles impact the workpiece. These scalers emit just 2.3m/s2 of vibration – up to 8 times less than conventional tools – and allow operators to comfortably work full 8 hour shifts. Compare that with less than 20 minutes of trigger time allowed when working with tools lacking vibration damping, and Vibro-Lo became the clear choice for DI Environment. The lightweight, ergonomic VL303 design reduces operator fatigue and directly contributes to lowering manpower costs and downtime.

Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome
Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a serious concern for many workers operating power and hand tools. Trelawny's VL303 Vibro-Lo™ needle scalers allow workers to complete a full 8-hour shift before reaching ANSI and European Union exposure action value thresholds, compared to as little as 10 minutes for those using conventional tools. Improved operator comfort also typically leads to increased productivity.

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Trelawny LRS-5 "LITE" long-reach scrapers also proved to be invaluable on the job site for the removal of de-laminated paint and corrosion in hard-to-reach areas. The 5-foot-long tool's lightweight aluminum design allows workers to easily scrape, chip and de-scale, even in overhead areas.

These reliable pneumatic tools are purpose-built for continuous operation and consume only about 1/2 as much air as conventional tools, allowing crews to run multiple units off of small compressors. An optional vacuum dust shroud is available for standard and long-reach scalers for better containment of debris contaminated with lead or asbestos.

The Surface Preparation Package Included:

VL 303 Needle Scaler - Absbestos & Lead Case Study
Long Reach Lite - Asbestos & Lead Case Study

The Result: Productivity Exceeding Expectations

DI Environment's crew was able to remove both layers of coating, totaling an area of over 22,000 sq ft, in just three 8-hour shifts, paving the way for a final blast clean to prep the beams to SA 2.5 for re-coating.

Without the Vibro-Lo scalers, a much larger crew would be required to achieve the same results in the same amount of time. Workers would have to rotate out as they quickly reached vibration exposure limits, taking them out of play for any task involving a tool emitting vibration until the following day.

"Productivity exceeded our expectations," reported the company’s group works manager. "The low vibration of the VL303 needle scaler allowed for really intensive use. We had a higher yield, increasing our usual productivity by 50 percent."

Asbestos & Lead Paint On I Beam
Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame Paris Transit Station Set Up
Before Removal 
Needle scaler asbestos & lead coating removal on metal
Vibrolo needle scaler asbestos & lead

long reach lite chisel scraper coatings removal
Asbestos & Lead Coating Removal


VL 303 Needle Scaler - Absbestos & Lead Case Study

Learn more about the tools in this article:

Long Reach Lite - Asbestos & Lead Case Study


Safety Notice: User is responsible for meeting all hazardous material containment requirements.

Please contact your local OSHA, EPA, State and Country regulatory offices for clarification and guidelines.

Further information can be found on the EPA website here.

Project Information Provided By Trelawny SPT Limited