There are a number of steps which must be taken to manage asbestos in the workplace
- identify asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACMs) at the workplace and record the detail in an Asbestos Register. This must be done by a competent person
- assess the risk of anyone in the workplace being exposed to airborne asbestos including consideration of the condition, likelihood of damage to or deterioration of the asbestos and the proximity of it to workers
- eliminate or minimise the risks using control measures. This may include: removal of asbestos by licensed asbestos removalists or management through other control measures included in the Asbestos Management Plan
- review control measures to ensure they are really working. The Asbestos Management Plan should contain review procedures to follow.
When choosing control measures, the hierarchy of controls must be considered
- eliminate the risk (e.g. removing the asbestos)
- isolate the risk or apply controls (e.g. enclose or encapsulate the asbestos, seal the asbestos, or use certain tools only)
- use administrative controls (e.g. safe work practices such as banning the use of abrasive tools and high pressure hoses on asbestos surfaces)
- use personal protective equipment
An Asbestos Register must contain the following information:
- records of any asbestos that has been identified or is assumed to be present at the workplace
- a record of the date when the asbestos was identified
- a record of the type and condition of the asbestos
- a record of the specific location of the asbestos and whether the location is accessible or inaccessible (photos can be helpful)
- the name of the ‘competent person’ who conducted the asbestos identification and assessment appropriate review dates to ensure information remains accurate and Current state if no asbestos has been identified
- be given to the new person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) when there is a change of management or control of the workplace
- be made readily available to people working in the workplace, be they workers, Health and Safety Representatives, volunteers, contractors or other PCBU.
Labelling and Signage
The presence of asbestos must be clearly indicated by labelling the asbestos or ACM where it is reasonably practicable to do so. If this is not reasonably practicable then signage is required in the immediate area
Asbestos Management Plan
A person who has management or control of the workplace must ensure that a written plan (an Asbestos Management Plan) is prepared if asbestos has been identified.
The Asbestos Management Plan must:
- identify the location of asbestos and ACM and any naturally occurring asbestos
- include decisions about the management of asbestos at the workplace (e.g. safe work procedures and control measures) and reasons for these decisions
- outline procedures for incidents and emergencies involving asbestos, including who is responsible
- be maintained with up-to-date information
- be reviewed at least every five years or when requested by a health and safety
- representative (HSR) or:
- when asbestos is removed, disturbed, sealed or enclosed or
- when changes to a control measure are made or
- when the plan is no longer adequate
What else would you expect to find in a comprehensive Asbestos Management Plan?
If there is an incident regarding asbestos or you plan to remove asbestos how will you communicate with staff, contractors and neighbours?
If someone is concerned they may be exposed to asbestos what do they do?
Including health risks of asbestos, legal duties of parties and how asbestos is managed, accessing the asbestos information (ie: the Asbestos Register and how to understand the information in it, safe work procedures and responding to an exposure to asbestos.)
Staff inductions should include introducing workers to all potential hazards associated with their work including the presence of asbestos. New workers should be shown where the Asbestos Register is and how to understand the information in it. A walkthrough tour is a good way in showing new workers where asbestos is and the labelling or signage for workers to follow.
Do I need more training in asbestos-related work?
There are strict regulations about compulsory training for people who work as licensed asbestos removalists in Tasmania.
However, it is legal for anyone to remove less than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos without being a licensed asbestos removalist, provided the appropriate controls are in place and procedures are followed.
Some other workers may come into contact with asbestos in their day to day work and should be trained in and using safe work practice
These are some of the types of workers who must be trained if they are involved in asbestos-related work:
- Excavation Workers
- Fire Fighters
- Emergency Workers
- School Attendants
- Maintenance Crews
- Plumbers Painters
- Floor layers
- Landfill Workers
- Building and Construction Workers
- Waste transfer station staff
- Environment Protections Officers
- (local government)
If you are concerned that you might be involved in asbestos related work and need further training, talk to your supervisor, Health and Safety Representative, employer, union or contact Workplace Standards Tasmania.
Under no circumstances should you use a high pressure water spray (unless fire fighting) or compressed air on asbestos containing materials:
The following should not be used on asbestos or asbestos containing materials unless the equipment is appropriately controlled:
- power tools
- any other implements that cause the release of airborne asbestos into the atmosphere
The use of equipment is controlled if :
(a) the equipment is enclosed during its use
(b) the equipment is designed to capture or suppress airborne asbestos and is used in accordance with its design
(c) the equipment is used in a way that is designed to capture or suppress airborne asbestos safely
(d) a combination of a), b), c) occurs.