Asbestos is a generic name that is given to a group of fibrous silicate materials that occur naturally in the environment.
For many decades asbestos was mined and widely used in Australia. Asbestos was a useful and versatile mineral mainly because of its unique properties; flexibility, tensile strength, insulation (from heat and electricity) and chemical inertness. It is the only natural mineral that can be spun and woven like cotton or wool into useful fibres and fabrics. Due to its unique combination it became widely used by industry.
Most homes built before the mid 1970’s contain asbestos in some form, and in fact asbestos building products continued to be used up until the early 1980’s. Asbestos was easy to work with.
Asbestos was often sprayed onto ceilings and walls for a variety of purposes, i.e. decorative, etc. It was also used as a form of insulation around the pipes behind radiators or wood-burning stoves. Asbestos was also used in Vinyl floor tiles and their backings, roofing, eaves, shingles, some plaster and paint. Many routine repairs, renovation and maintenance activities – even putting in a new heating system – can disrupt asbestos, releasing millions of fibres.
The versatility of Asbestos enabled it to be used across a variety of industries such
- Construction Industry
- Car Manufacturing
- Textile Industry
- Aerospace Industry
- Marine and Rail Transport industries
Asbestos products were gradually removed from production during the 1980s.
Between 1981 and 1983, asbestos flat sheeting was phased out. In 1985, corrugated products (roofing and cladding) were also removed from production. Asbestos-lined piping was not made after 1987 and in 2003 brake pads and linings ceased to contain asbestos.
Legislation in Australia makes it illegal for any new materials to contain asbestos fibres and people are no longer able to import, manufacture, supply, store, transport, sell, use, reuse, install or replace asbestos-containing materials.
Existing older buildings may contain building elements/materials that contain asbestos. Undisturbed, undamaged and intact asbestos materials are generally considered safe.
Asbestos based materials are potentially dangerous when people build or renovate and start removing, cleaning, cutting, sanding, drilling, grinding or pulling up materials that contain asbestos as asbestos fibres can be released into the air where they can be inhaled.
People who have been exposed to asbestos fibres in their workplace are at greater risk. Fields of such work include:
- Mining or milling asbestos
- Manufacture and repair of goods using raw asbestos fibres, such as brake linings
- Using products containing asbestos, for instance in building and construction, heating, shipyards, power stations, boiler making and plumbing
- Alteration, repair or demolition of buildings or other structures containing asbestos
With the introduction of the WHS Act 2011 and WHS Regulations 2011, greater duties have been imposed on businesses (PCBU’s) to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers and other persons are not put at risk from work carried out as part of the business or undertaking.
The WHS Regulations include specific obligations for a number of duty holders in relation to safely removing asbestos.
If your business is in Asbestos Removal, you must ensure so far as is reasonably practicable that exposure of a person at the workplace to airborne asbestos is eliminated. If this is not reasonably practicable, the exposure must be minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.
Asbestos removal work means:
- work involving the removal of asbestos or ACM (Asbestos containing material)
- Class A asbestos removal work or Class B asbestos removal work as outlined in Part 8.10 of the WHS Regulations.
Officers, such as company directors, have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that the business or undertaking complies with the WHS Act and WHS Regulations.
This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that the business or undertaking has and uses appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks associated with asbestos.
Workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that they do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. They must comply with any reasonable instruction and cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to health and safety at the workplace. If PPE is provided by the person conducting the business or undertaking, the worker must use it in accordance with information, instruction and training provided on their use.
The WHS Act and Regulations place specific duties to consult when working with asbestos. The Asbestos removalist must consult with all persons that may be affected by the asbestos removal process. The consultation must extend to include the PCBU, management and/or site supervisors or project managers, HSRs and other contractors. Depending on the location of the asbestos removal work, the asbestos removalist may also be required to consult with other tenants and/or neighbouring premises.
PCBU’s undertaking Asbestos removal must ensure their workers are appropriately trained and licensed. Asbestos training is a critical part of WHS law for those working with Asbestos.The type of training required will vary:
Asbestos Awareness Training – This course is ideal for those who work around asbestos but do not need to remove it or need to remove less than 10m2.
Remove non-friable asbestos – Under WHS legislation it is a requirement for all workers removing non-friable asbestos to have successfully completed nationally recognised training This course provides the skills and knowledge necessary to remove non-friable asbestos. It is ideal for those who may have had previously worked with removing asbestos, those needing to upgrade their training under the WHS Act or those looking to enter the asbestos removal industry.
Supervise asbestos removal – Asbestos removal projects require direction by a licensed Asbestos Supervisor. This course is nationally recognised and provides the skills and knowledge necessary to supervise friable and non-friable asbestos removal projects. This course is ideal for those who already hold a Class A or Class B asbestos removal license and are ready for the next step in career responsibility.
Conduct Asbestos Assessment Associated with Removal – teaches the required skills and knowledge for asbestos assessors to visually inspect and use a range of measuring devices to undertake the monitoring of airborne asbestos fibres in the workplace. Such monitoring and testing is an integral part of identifying hazards, assessing risks, monitoring the effectiveness of controls, and ensuring that the workplace is free of asbestos fibres prior to reoccupation.
Our courses are carefully designed to provide in-depth knowledge and understanding of Asbestos Awareness as well as management and compliance requirements under the WHS regulations. We help participants steer their way through their obligations, making it easier for you to comply with your requirements.
For over 6 years, we have delivered quality competency based training to industry and are leaders in Asbestos Awareness training as well as Nationally Recognised Asbestos Removal Training.
Contact us to ascertain the correct Asbestos course for you and/or your workers to ensure you comply with your obligations under Work Health and Safety Legislation.