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What is asbestos, and how is asbestos removed? These are a couple of the most common asbestos-related questions. Depending on where you work, you may need to know how to deal with asbestos. Here is what you should know.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural mineral found in rocks and soil. It was used for decades for its ability to help strengthen materials. It was also affordable and fireproof, making it a popular insulation material. Other common uses for asbestos include:

  • Roofing shingles
  • Floor tiles
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Countertops
  • Asbestos cement products
  • Automobile components

Australia banned the use of asbestos in 2003 after recognising the potential health risks that come from breathing the material. At the time, about 90% of all asbestos fibre was used for asbestos cement manufacturing. As asbestos was only banned close to 20 years ago, it is still found in many older building materials.

There are two main types of asbestos—friable and non-friable asbestos. Friable means “easily crumbled.” Friable asbestos poses more of a health risk, as it is easily crumbled when handled, which can release small fibres into the air. Inhaling asbestos dust increases the risk of a variety of health issues, including:

  • Asbestosis
  • Pleural disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma

Asbestosis and pleural disease are two non-cancer diseases that are caused by inhaling airborne asbestos fibres. Asbestosis is scarring that occurs in the lungs. This scarring prevents oxygen and carbon dioxide from passing through the lungs easily, which can make breathing more difficult.

Pleural disease is a type of non-cancerous lung disease that alters the membrane surrounding the lungs and the chest cavity. The membrane thickens, which can lead to breathing problems.

Tens of thousands of Australians are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases each year. Due to the dangers of asbestos, the government places strict requirements on its removal. Failure to comply can result in steep penalties.

The laws around asbestos were also recently updated. Under the WHS Act, all companies should comply with the model Codes of Practice for dealing with asbestos-containing material (ACM) and asbestos products. Luckily, training is available to ensure compliance and minimise the health risks of dealing with asbestos waste.

The model WHS regulations require businesses with work environments that include a risk of exposure to asbestos to complete certain steps. This often includes construction sites, automotive plants, and other industrial sites. Here are some of the requirements:

  • Train workers who may be exposed to asbestos.
  • Maintain an asbestos register.
  • Use an asbestos management plan.
  • Obtain a licence to remove asbestos.

While these requirements apply to persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), workers also require training to identify asbestos and remove it.

How to Identify Asbestos?

Businesses must mark locations where asbestos may be found throughout the workplace. However, workers in certain industries must also be prepared to identify asbestos. 10675NAT Asbestos Awareness is the required training course for anyone at risk of exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos awareness training is necessary for a wide range of professions, including bricklayers, stonemasons, air-conditioning mechanics, building inspectors, civil engineers, and dozens of others. Even if you do not handle asbestos, you may need to know how to identify it.

Unfortunately, asbestos is not easy to identify based on its appearance. Identifying asbestos involves knowing the types of materials that may potentially include asbestos. After suspecting a material may contain asbestos, further analysis is often needed to confirm the presence of the harmful material.

How Is Asbestos Removed?

The safe removal of asbestos requires a licensed asbestos removalist, which includes businesses that meet the requirements for asbestos removal. Individual workers do not obtain a licence. However, you may still need training to participate in the removal process.

The procedures and requirements for the removal of asbestos are covered by the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act. If you are a construction worker or involved in work that may include exposure to asbestos products, you may need to complete training.

The type of training depends on the type of asbestos and your role in the asbestos removal process:

  • CPCCDE3014 Remove Non-Friable Asbestos
  • CPCCDE3015 Remove Friable Asbestos
  • CPCCDE4008 Supervise Asbestos Removal

The CPCCDE3014 course is necessary for the removal of over 10 square metres of non-friable (Class B) asbestos materials. The CPCCDE3015 course is required for the removal of any amount of friable (Class A) asbestos. Both courses include prerequisite training.

Before enrolling in CPCCDE3014 or CPCCDE3015, you must complete CPCCWHS1001—Prepare to Work in the Construction Industry. The CPCCWHS1001 course is often called white card training.

No matter your training needs, AlertForce can help ensure that you meet industry standards and government regulations. AlertForce is a leading registered training organisation with a wide range of courses in cities throughout Australia. Browse training courses to learn more.

Conclusion

Asbestos remains a danger in specific settings. Construction workers, industrial workers, electricians, and plumbers may face asbestos exposure. Training is needed to identify asbestos in the workplace and safely remove it.

Asbestos awareness training is necessary for those in professions that include the risk of exposure to asbestos. Asbestos removal courses are required for anyone involved in the removal of friable or non-friable asbestos. If you need asbestos training, browse upcoming asbestos courses from AlertForce.

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