- Types of asbestos
- The regulations
- Key elements of the code
- Control measures
- Where can I get more information
Thermal and acoustic asbestos insulation material may be found in some workplaces, and present particularly high health risks if not correctly managed due to their friable (crumbly) nature.
Asbestos cement (AC) materials also contain asbestos and are present in many workplaces and homes, predominantly as sheeting in walls, roofs and fencing in or around buildings dating from the 1950s until around 1987.
Since 1996, employers have been required to maintain a “register” in the workplace of any asbestos* products (including asbestos cement products) found in that workplace.
Regulation 5.43 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 requires the employer, main contractor, a self-employed person or the person having control of the workplace to identify and assess risks from hazards in relation to asbestos in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Management and Control of Asbestos in Workplaces [NOHSC: 2018(2005)] (“the Code”). Section 19(1) of the OSH Act 1984 creates a duty of care for employers to provide a safe workplace; and part of this duty is to ensure any asbestos at a workplace does not present a hazard to employees (as far as practicable). This section also requires the employer to consult with employees on safety and health matters, and this includes asbestos management.
3.Key elements of the Code of Practice for the Management and Control of Asbestos in Workplaces [NOHSC: 2018(2005)]
- An asbestos register must be held at workplaces where asbestos is present (Part 9).
- A risk assessment must be done to see whether asbestos at the workplace presents a hazard to employees (Part 10).
- The risk assessment must be done by a competent person.**
- The register, including risk assessments, should be updated every 12 months or earlier (Part 9.3.1)
- WorkSafe will accept that asbestos containing products assessed by a competent person as presenting a low risk to people, being in good condition and having a low risk of disturbance may be assessed at longer intervals (of up to three years), provided this longer assessment period is recorded in writing by the competent person and there are systems in place to report any damage, disturbance or work involving the asbestos that occurs prior to the next planned risk assessment.
- Asbestos in the workplace should be appropriately labelled and signed (Part 9.5).
- Warning signs and labels supplement the information in the asbestos register.
- A competent person should determine suitable locations for signs and labels.
- The competent person involved in the risk assessment should be involved in control strategies.
- The type of control depends on the risk and the type of asbestos material, but may include removal, encapsulation, or monitoring the condition of the material.
- Robust systems of providing information to people whose work may involve the asbestos are necessary. This includes ensuring that staff responsible for receiving, directing or instructing contractors are made aware of the information that needs to be provided. A permit-to-work system may be appropriate in larger organisations.
- The employer must train people with a role in asbestos management, and use trained and, where necessary, licensed people to conduct work which may involve the asbestos.
- When preparing tender documentation for contractors, it is appropriate for information about the presence and location of asbestos to be included.
- Employers must ensure that work schedules for employees carrying out repair and maintenance work at the workplace also contain information about the presence and location of asbestos.
- The Code contains specific guidance on how to conduct many tasks involving asbestos.
When inspecting workplaces, WorkSafe will be taking into account that undisturbed AC sheeting does not usually pose a risk to health, however, employers still need to carry out a risk assessment and maintain a workplace register of any asbestos products found in a workplace, even if the only asbestos present is contained in undisturbed asbestos cement products.
Check out WorkSafe’s website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au or contact WorkSafe on 9327 8777. The Code of Practice for the Management and Control of Asbestos in Workplaces [NOHSC: 2018(2005)] is available at www.ascc.gov.au.
* The definition of asbestos under Regulation 5.1 is “… the fibrous form of mineral silicates belonging to the serpentine and amphibole groups of rock forming mineral and includes actinolite, amosite (brown asbestos), anthophyllite, crocidolite (blue asbestos), chrysotile (white asbestos), tremolite, or any material containing one or more of those materials.”
** Competent person is defined in the Code as a “person possessing adequate qualifications, such as suitable training and sufficient knowledge, experience and skill, for the safe performance of the specific work.”
- Related downloads
- Unrestricted asbestos licence application guide
- Industry checklist - asbestos in construction
- Management and control of asbestos in workplaces
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- Safe Removal of Asbestos
- Information required for an asbestos removal licence
- Asbestos materials-automotive repair industry-Guidance note