The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) was established by the government in 2013 and has proposed that asbestos removal be funded by a tax on building materials. ASEA’s Chief Executive Officer believes that subsidies are needed for homeowners to be incentivised to take action to remove asbestos from the millions of homes across Australia that still contain it. Whether this proposal is developed and implemented remains to be seen. But either way, it shouldn’t fundamentally change your approach to asbestos awareness and removal. Diligence is key and can only be properly achieved via certified training programs that address asbestos awareness, identification and removal.
Here are a few salient facts to remind us why asbestos remains something to take very seriously:
- Approximately one in three houses across Australia has asbestos containing materials in it
- If your house was built before 1990 then you should assume it was built using asbestos until it can be confirmed otherwise by a licenced expert
- Don’t assume that your real estate agent will be able to give accurate information about whether the property you wish to buy contains asbestos – they are not licensed experts
- Approximately 700 die each year from mesothelioma
- The overall number of asbestos-related deaths is around 4000 per year
- Since 2014, asbestos-related disease claims due to exposure during home renovations have exceeded expectations and outstripped what were previous the main causes – mining and manufacturing
If incentives are introduced to homeowners to remove asbestos from their properties, then we’d hope that they were implemented and regulated in such a way as to avoid some of the disastrous outcomes of other government-incentivised schemes such as insulation and child care. Because one thing is for sure: if the subsidies do eventually get the go ahead, the market is likely to be flooded with dodgy operators looking to take advantage and many a homeowner will find themselves at risk of exposure or fines due to poorly executed work or illegally dumped asbestos.
When the ABC reported on ASEA’s proposal this month, many homeowners and would-be renovators may have thought to themselves that it could be worth holding off on renovations until such a time as they are subsidised. It’s impossible yet to say whether this is a good idea. What isn’t a good idea is sacrificing high quality training and diligence to the possibility of a cheaper job. Whether a reno on an asbestos-containing house become something that can be subsidised or not, asbestos awareness and removal training will be crucial for anyone involved in works on the house, including the homeowner.
If you’re a homeowner and you plan on having any kind of involvement with a renovation to your property, then you need to be fully aware of where asbestos could be hiding in your house, for example:
- Roofing and gutters
- Gables and eaves
- Vinyl, carpet and tile underlay
- Lining behind wall tiles
- Imitation brick cladding
- Telecommunication pits
- Window putty
- Expansion joints
- Packing under beams
- Concrete form
Then it’s time to contact a licensed asbestos assessor who can do a detailed analysis of your property so you can plan your next steps. If you are going to remove asbestos, your best option is to get a licensed asbestos removalist to do the job. Most states will allow you to remove small amounts of certain ACMs from your house but have very strict rules about how it’s done and where it’s disposed of. For example, in NSW you can remove 10sqm of bonded asbestos from your home but you must follow the EPA guidelines meticulously in order to do so.
Either way, an asbestos awareness course is a good idea. AlertForce offers an online option which can be perfect for a homeowner who is just busting to give their property the Grand Designs treatments. For those wanting to take things a step further or wanting to employ a team they know is properly prepared for the task of identifying and removing asbestos, enrol in our nationally accredited asbestos awareness course and asbestos removal courses.
We’ll report back with any developments regarding the subsidies or other incentives for homeowners to remove asbestos and in the meantime, we encourage you to stay safe and get training for anyone who may be exposed during the course of home renovations. Give us a call today to discuss your options.