ACT Government Corrects Misconceptions Regarding Key Asbestos-Removal Rule

Any company involved in building demolition, renovations or construction must go through proper training courses regarding the safe removal and disposal of materials containing asbestos. This is a heat-resistant material that was heavily used in residential and commercial construction prior to the 1980s. It was used as insulation inside buildings as well as in wallboard, roofing shingles and indoor tile.

While asbestos was championed as an affordable material that resists and traps in heat naturally, it also releases fibres that are invisible to the eye which collect inside the lungs. Inhalation of those fibres is now linked to the development a form of cancer known as mesothelioma as well as other life-threatening diseases.

It can take more than 20 years for victims to start showing symptoms of disease, and Australians die from asbestos mesothelioma every year. Although the use of any material containing asbestos in the construction of residential or commercial buildings was banned in Australia in 2003, there are many structures built in earlier years that still contain these materials. When these materials are encountered during renovation, demolition or property maintenance, they must be removed and disposed of safely so that fibres aren’t released into the air.

When governmental regulations regarding the removal of asbestos aren’t followed carefully, the lives of all people in the area are put in danger. This is why companies are now working through the certification process to qualify as approved asbestos-removal professionals. Companies, contractors and individuals without the proper certification must call an approved professional if they believe a material containing asbestos is found during the course of a project.

Loopholes and Misconceptions about Removal

The ACT government is now taking action to close loopholes and bust myths surrounding one particular rule included in asbestos-removal regulation. The rule states that certified, approved asbestos-removal professionals must be called for all projects involving the removal of more than 10 square metres of asbestos-containing material.

For years, many companies have interpreted this to mean they can remove up to 10 square metres of asbestos materials without any training. This means that many companies have allowed uncertified, untrained workers and supervisors to remove small amounts of asbestos materials without contacting a qualified professional to oversee the work. This puts Australians in danger because even small amounts of asbestos-containing materials can release dangerous fibres into the air.

Taking it even further, some companies interpret the rule to mean that they can remove up to 10 square metres of asbestos materials per day. If a project takes 40 days to complete, that means the company may remove up to 400 square metres of asbestos without the supervision of a qualified professional before the end of the project.

Builders, contractors and other workers involved in the removal and disposal of asbestos materials have abused this rule either intentionally or out of ignorance for many years, but the ACT government is closing the loophole and clearing up any misunderstandings.

What Does the Rule Really Mean?

The rule was intended to allow uncertified workers to remove small amounts of asbestos materials when encountered over the course of a larger project. Workers are still required to receive some training in the handling and removal of these materials, even if they don’t obtain their certification or diploma in work health and safety.

The intention was never to allow uncertified and untrained workers to accept jobs removing any amount of asbestos materials. Companies have been carrying out this work without the proper training and without meeting other legal qualifications due to this one rule, and that is what the ACT government is now correcting.

The New Asbestos Removal Rules

The ACT government is making the following changes to ensure the safety of all Australians:

  1. All asbestos removalists and assessors will be licensed through Worksafe. All company oversight will be completed by Worksafe as well, ensuring the asbestos-removal industry is closely monitored with the strict standards currently experienced by other high-risk industries.
  2. New workers handling asbestos in Canberra must contact Worksafe so that their first project can be approved. This will ensure that workers moving into the area have received the proper training, are licensed and are handling these dangerous materials in line with the government’s expectations.
  3. Worksafe must receive advanced notification from companies completing projects that involve friable asbestos. This form of asbestos crumbles and breaks easily and is therefore much more likely to contaminate the air with asbestos fibres. These projects are currently reported after the completion of the work, but Worksafe will now demand advanced approval for such jobs.
  4. Any job requiring the removal of asbestos materials, friable or non-friable, must be completed by a licensed asbestos removalist. This completely does away with the 10 square metre rule, closing that loophole and leaving no room for misunderstandings of the law.

These new rules will go into effect January, 1, 2015, and will change the way many construction and remodelling companies perform their work. This may also lead to an increase in the number of companies investing in asbestos training and certification so that they can employ their own asbestos removalists and assessors.

These new rules go well beyond correcting misunderstandings surrounding the 10 square metre rule. They address a few other problems that have left the asbestos removal industry vulnerable in past years. Once the new rules go into effect, companies will have no choice but to train their workers for the safe removal and disposal of these materials or to connect with licensed asbestos removalists in their area to ensure that these materials are handled legally when identified during the course of a project.

The new rules will also give companies fewer excuses when violations of the rules are discovered or reported. The new rules are straightforward and contain fewer loopholes, so workers will have less room to talk their way out of citations when caught handling these dangerous materials improperly. This will increase business for removalists while decreasing the risk to Australians living near construction sites that contain any amount of asbestos materials.

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Asbestos Task Force Still Has Some Work To Do

An independent taskforce organised by the Labor party at the peak of asbestos recent Telstra Asbestos concerns, will reportedly be incorporated into  the new Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency.

Taskforce chairman Geoff Fary remarked that there remained  “a lot of work” for it to do.

Fary has contacted  Employment Minister Eric Abetz to discuss the plan.

He said that despite the changes still to come to NBN , “for the foreseeable future there will be a lot of work for the independent taskforce” as NBN cabling continued to be rolled out.

The asbestos task force was established in June by former workplace relations minister Bill Shorten and former communications minister Stephen Conroy  after reports emerged that poor safety measures were being practiced at some of the Telstra’s pits.

Also established was a taskforce for a “hindsight” review,to review all asbestos-related work carried out by project workers.

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New Software Will Help Manage Asbestos Risk

ASBESTOS TRAININGA new software platform will reportedly help map,manage and remove deadly asbestos material.

Octfolio’s abestos information management software launched last week along with a supplementary website.

The platform took three years to develop, before beta versions with sent out to institutions like Ergon Energy, Byron Shire Council, and the Department of Finance and Deregulation.

Owned by investment company Tulla Group, Octfolio was founded by one-time Elders Resources chief executive Kevin Maloney– also a Tulla chairman.

Exposure to asbestos is a known cause of mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer which has prompted a plethora of state and federal legislation and safety measures.

The software aims to make it simpler to comply with legislation covering asbestos and to use asbestos-related databases such as the National Asbestos Register.

“Octfolio has developed the first and only fully integrated tool that will map, classify, quantify and enable the strategic cost-effective removal of asbestos from workplaces and homes,” Octfolio managing director Darren Anderson said.

The software has been rolled out at Queensland’s Ergon Energy, which uses it to manage its entries in the National Asbestos Register.

“They said to us they had been paying the Queensland government millions a year to do the audits and (asked if we had) a better solution,” Octfolio chief technology adviser Mark Kay said. He said the Octfolio software automated the process of generating and submitting field reports from asbestos-affected sites.

“Imagine Ergon Energy trying to do that across thousands of different sites,” said Mr Kay.

“Now the auditors use tablets to collect information in the field so you don’t have that paper handling.”

The software also automatically generates reports after auditors submit their findings,and will reportedly reduce the costs of the exercise by up to 75 per cent.

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Asbestos Training: Deadly Material Found at Winstone Factory

asbestos trainingFletcher Building’s Winstone Wallboards is tentatively closed following the discovery of asbestos traces in the Christchurch building.

An outside testing agency informed the company last week that asbestos had been found and the site was to be closed down entirely as a safety precaution and to allow for further testing.

The company expects the results of the additional testing to be released shortly, and the plant is expected to open later this week.

“The company is not aware of any related health symptoms, however as a precaution, health checks will be made available to employees and contractors,” Winston Wallboards general manager David Thomas said.

“It is understood the traces of asbestos originate from the roof and that those traces are likely to have been contained within the manufacturing building.”

Staff and contractors were warned of the risks and asked to stay clear of the affected areas until the site is open once again.

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Minister Vows To Keep School Open Following Asbestos Scare

asbestos trainingEducation Minister Martin Dixon has vowed to keep the western Victoria open despite the recent asbestos scare.

The Timboon Prep to 12 School was cleared out of all personnel and students ] when following WorkSafe’s closure notice after discovering asbestos and peeling lead paint.

Fortunately, tests revealed that students and teachers were not exposed to airborne asbestos.

Despite reports earlier this year that the school would be permanently closed, Dixon promised that will not happen.

“The school’s definitely not going to close,” he said.

“It’s a great school. It’s a great community and when you look at where the school is situated within the broader community, it’s a vital hub and I can assure the community that the future of the school is very very bright.”

The closure order has since been lifted and classes have resumed normally. The asbestos and paint will be dealt with over the holidays.

Principal Rosalie Moorfield says the school community has been very supportive during the closure.

“This has probably been a pretty low week for the Timboon community,” she said.

“But at the end of that, strong bonds have been formed and a real passion to make sure that our facilities are the facilities that we deserve, has certainly been ignited.”

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Bike Trail Closed Until Asbestos Removed

Scattered areas throughout the mountain bike trail at Stromlo Forest Park in Canberra have been closed down following the discovery of asbestos. Pieces of material believed to be asbestos was discovered on two sections of the track.

The material is believed to the remains of the Australian National University’s buildings (ANU) which were destroyed in 2003 bush-fires.

The asbestos material is expected to be removed by ANU by the end of the week and the park will remain closed for sometime after as a safety precaution.

Signs are in place near Red Rock and Tall Trees informing trailblazers of alternative routes.

Organisers of the World 24-hour Solo Mountain Bike Championships say the discovery should not affect the event.

Asbestos was found during earthworks to establish the North Weston Ponds site, near the new Molonglo suburbs of Wright and Coombs.

The ACT Government allocated $20 million for the clean-up of the pond site.

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NT Drafting Plan For Asbestos Removal At Botanic Gardens

The NT Government is currently mounting a management plan to tend to the removal of asbestos uncovered at Darwin’s George Brown Botanic Gardens.A spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources and Environment revealed that asbestos was uncovered in the gardens over a month ago.

The asbestos is believed to be among the rubble dumped in the gardens following Cyclone Tracy.The Department stated that it is currently unclear how much asbestos exists at the site, but it is believed to be safe in its current form.

However, despite the government’s assurance, workers have refused to service the garden because they have safety concerns with the asbestos.NT WorkSafe confirmed that inspectors have since visited the site and it is up to the government to deal with the asbestos removal.



The Northern Territory Environment Department  revealed that some soil with suspected asbestos contamination have been removed from Darwin’s Botanic Gardens.

Asbestos was discovered at  the gardens approximately a month ago and since then discussions have been ongoing regarding it’s removal.

A spokesperson said some soil has been removed but it was not in a public space.

Staff have still refused to mow the lawns and are continuing discussions with department and union representatives.


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Asbestos Found at Deteriorating National Archives Storage Facility

Asbestos AwarenessThe National Archives of Australia’s Mitchell storage facility is reportedly in such shambles that they are   taping down floor tiles which potentially contain asbestos.

Federal Parliament’s Public Works Committee pondered evidence put forth regarding plans for an almost $100 million preservation facility to alleviate the pressure on the existing centre which is so full that it can no longer accept classified documents.

Labor Senator Ann Urqhart remarked that she had noticed at least one tile being held down by tape, on a visit to the storage site. Urqhart inquired as to what plans were in place to guarantee the safety of the staff in the event that asbestos was conclusively discovered.

Archives assistant Director-General Cheryl Watson indicated that certain measures were being implemented to ensure the safety of staff in the wake of asbestos contamination. Watson stated that some highly secretive documents were no longer accepted at the facility, although some other less sensitive documents were still stored at the site.  The site has commenced work on upgrading a vault so that documents can continue to be safely stored until a new building is chosen.  D

Defence Housing officials informed the committee that a nearby school had been consulted by ACT planning authorities about development of site. Defence Housing also planned to communicate and work with the school.

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Asbestos Training: Mining Sites Closed After Asbestos Fibers Discovered

Asbestos AwarenessThe Department of Mines and Petroleum is examining the state of asbestos contamination in the Pilbara mine site.Rio Tinto confirmed that brown asbestos was uncovered at the West Angeles mine site last month.

The contamination in question was revealed when fibres were identified in material submitted from Holcim Quarry. A spokesperson for Rio Tinto indicated that the exposure levels were below OHS exposure limits but employees were swiftly informed of the dangers.

The Holcim quarry has voluntarily halted their operations and a  preliminary report on the site is due to be submitted shortly.

BHP have subsequently isolated material at another mine site near Meekatharra, following allegations that workers could have been exposed to asbestos. Key industry players have also been called to gather at the company’s behest.

A spokesperson for BHP said tests are currently underway and the safety of workers is not in jeopardy.  CFMEU safety officer Steve McCann claims to have spent three days investigating asbestos following calls from reports from several concerned workers.

McCann is worried that workers will continue to be exposed to the deadly substance while the investigation continues.

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Unions call for Federally Funded Asbestos Authority

Asbestos AwarenessReports have indicated that unions intend on pushing for the creation of a National Asbestos Authority to help protect people, and remove asbestos from homes and businesses.

Lifelong campaigner against Asbestos, Paul  Bastian will meet with Prime Minister Gillard and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten to discuss the case. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary, Bastian said more Australians died from asbestos exposure than in World War II.Bastian believes that the number of people and legal matters dealing with asbestos surely indicates that the problem must be dealt with. The union believes the best way to deal with this problem is a federally funded authority to manage the asbestos awareness, asbestos removal and to protect people from the dangers of the deadly substance.

The goal of the authority, according to the union would be educate the community about the existence of asbestos in private homes, businesses and public buildings. Bastion also mentioned the need for an immediate audit and plan to remove asbestos from all government buildings. He cited State government’s common reports of low levels of compliance with asbestos regulation, as reason for the need for a federally funded scheme to treat the issue as one of critical importance on a national scale.

Shorten recently mentioned that asbestos was indeed a critical issue for the government which is evident by their recently commissioned asbestos management review. The government currently awaits the report’s recommendations which is expected to be released later this week.

Asbestos Victims Association Pleased With Successful Asbestos Court Case

Asbestos AwarenessThe Asbestos Victims Association revealed that more  people will be eligible for damages claims for asbestos exposure following the case of a former Whyalla shipyards worker successfully brought against BHP Biliton.

The Full Court of the South Australian Supreme Court sustained a ruling to grant William Parker $20,000 in exemplary damages.

The court found that BHP failed to prevent Parker from getting Cancer while he was a shipyard worker in the 1970s.Terry Miller of the support group stated that the case was an important win for victims.  Miller believes that this case will represent precedent for future cases and will enable more asbestos related cases to make it to court. Miller added, that though not all cases will be made for exemplary damages, this case makes it “more easy”.

Asbestos continues to plague individuals years after Australian companies were ordered to stop using it. Many victims suffer end up suffering from the asbestos- exposure disease Mesothelioma, years after being exposed to the deadly substance.

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ACT Hints At Legal Action Against Feds Over Asbestos Removal Costs

Asbestos Removal TrainingThe ACT government is thinking about taking legal action against the Federal Government over the steep cost of cleaning up asbestos.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher discussed her unsuccessful attempts at convincing the Commonwealth into funding some of the clean-up costs from when it dumped a significant amount of contaminated soil in Canberra.

Gallagher claims the ACT government spent approximately $30 million to clean up and resign in the new Molonglo development. Almost 180,000 tonnes of asbestos were reportedly removed from the site by the ACT.

A site with 600,000 cubic metres of contaminated waste in Eastlake is expected to cost about $100 million to remove.
Gallagher strongly supports the ACT in their quest to convince the Commonwealth to contribute. The support she has stems from the belief that since the former government authority allowed such practices to occur then Canberra tax payers should not be held liable.

However, the Federal Government is expected to counter on the basis that since the land was transferred to the ACT, liability did as well.

The position of the opposition is that tax payers should not be held financially liable for the “incompetence” of the former governing authority.

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Asbestos Training Breaches Cause Concern At ACM Removal Site

Asbestos Removal TrainingWorkers are concerned that the state’s biggest asbestos-removal site is risking safety by frequently breaching procedure.

Worker’s anonymously contacted The Advertiser news source and informed them that are doubtful that the correct removal methods were used in the first four months of the project. These four months involved the clean-up of 93,000 sq m of asbestos sheeting on the former Mitsubishi  manufacturing site.

SafeWork SA officers visit the site frequently and have had inspectors issue statutory notices for non-compliant work practices.

Some of the breaches include a failure to comply with PPE (personal protective equipment) requirements for asbestos-removal. However, there have been reports by former workers (who have quit) that the dangers extend far beyond PPE issues. Some issues have been cited regarding the handling of asbestos sheeting once it is removed from the factory structure by DE-Construct.

One worker stated that sheets were simply “dumped” into trucks with a plastic lining, causing airborne asbestos particles and dust.  Workers have also cited concerns with the thick cloud of dust in the factory that they believe may contain asbestos.

A spokesperson for the company stated that the company’s top priority was the safety of their workers.

Asbestos removal is being carried out according to EPA guidelines and under the watchful eye of SafeWork SA.

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Asbestos Training: Air Quality Monitoring Persists For Another Year

Asbestos AwarenessThe State Government has stated that air quality monitoring on asbestos removal projects, will remain mandatory for an additional year.Industrial Relations Minister, Russel Wortley, after undergoing the pressure of lobby groups, has stated that the current rules would remain for period of 12 months.

OHS Harmonisation and Asbestos Removal

South Australia will (over the next year) lobby for the mandatory air-monitoring for “Class- B removals”, in the harmonized occupational health and safety regulations. Wortley has stated that the decision of the government is a response to the concerns of industry affiliates and stakeholders.The asbestos that will require air-quality monitoring is the non-friable type of asbestos. Non-friable asbestos is commonly found in solid material and cannot be crushed manually when in a dry state.

Andrew Butler, a committee chairman for Steering, went on record to say that the 12-month transitional period to uphold air-quality monitoring is a significant improvement .There are concerns that dropping the mandatory monitoring would risk exposing workers to the deadly substance and subsequently, exposing them to a deadly disease. Wortley asserted in a conference, that diseases related to asbestos exposure continues to kill hundreds of Australians each year and plagues thousands of them with symptoms. No indication yet on if the air-quality monitoring will be a permanent addition to the harmonised laws.

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Outback Community Concerned About Asbestos

asbestos awareness trainingThe residents of a desert area known as Yuendumu, are concerned about asbestos in the dirt and in junk throughout the community. The government claims that it ensured the removal of all asbestos materials found to be in a poor condition.Despite this, the local board said that that there still concerns throughout the community.

The board also reiterated the government’s stance that there were no signs of asbestos risks in the area any longer.However, asbestos is still said to be found in many desert communities.

The Federal government has made it clear that they sent out specialists to each community to ensure that all asbestos risks were taken care of and removed but long term maintenance is the responsibility of the residents .


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The Difference Between Asbestos Awareness and a B Class License

Asbestos is a dangerous material. Just how dangerous it may be depends a great deal on your exposure to it. Workers in certain fields where asbestos was once used as a matter of course may come in contact with this material unexpectedly in the course of their work. In other cases, there are people who remove this material from businesses for a living.

So What are the Key Differences?

The type of Asbestos training you need depends a great deal on the risk this material will expose you too. That is why it is important to understand the difference between Asbestos awareness training and the more detailed Asbestos training for a B class license. This will explain the key differences between the two types of training.

Objectives Of Asbestos B Class Training

The first key difference in the two types of training is the objective of the training itself. The objective of the Asbestos training for a Class B license deals with actual asbestos removal. The people who take this training are people who know what bonded asbestos looks like and already have had some experience dealing with asbestos.

Asbestos awareness training does not deal with asbestos removal but rather keeping workers safe who may hold jobs where they may run into asbestos in the course of their work. This training is geared towards teaching workers how to recognize the presence of asbestos rather than removing it as a matter of course.

What Asbestos Awareness Training Focuses On

Asbestos awareness training focuses on a worker being able to recognize what asbestos material looks like, the likely place where it may be found in the course of their work, and what action they should take should they run into this material in terms of reducing their risks, reporting the asbestos etc.

This course’s main focus is on keeping workers from unknowingly subjecting themselves to the risk of asbestos exposure rather than focusing on the safe removal of the material.

What Asbestos Training For A B Class License Focuses On

Training for the B class license on the other hand focuses on the safe removal of the material by trained professionals. This training focuses on making sure that those actually dealing with asbestos removal knows how to control exposed asbestos material. Part of the training deals with how to minimize the risk of exposure to asbestos fibers, and ensuring that those taking the training know how to use the personal protection equipment that will help to minimize their exposure.

It should be remembered that Asbestos training for A B class license only deals with the removal of bonded asbestos materials such as fibro. Those wishing to remove unbonded asbestos will need to have training for an A class license.

Knowing which training course is right for you is not only necessary to be in compliance with the regulations dealing with this dangerous material but also in giving you the right training you need to reduce your risks and better perform your jobs.




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