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Asbestos

Information on asbestos in the workplace

Introduction

Inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestos is a serious issue for Australia and will continue to be so for many years.
 
Asbestos can be classified into two main types -  'friable'   or  'non-friable'.
 
Friable asbestos means any material that contains asbestos and is in the form of a powder or can be easily crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder by hand pressure when dry. Examples of friable asbestos include, but are not limited to, asbestos lagging, sprayed insulation, millboard, felt and woven asbestos matting.
 
Non-friable asbestos means any asbestos-containing material other than friable asbestos. Examples of non-friable asbestos include, but are not limited to, asbestos cement building products, vinyl floor tiles, friction materials, and any product where the asbestos is locked into the matrix.

In the past, workers at plants and factories that made asbestos products, workers at foundries, power plants, paper mills, refineries, and construction sites were exposed to asbestos. As a result, they were often the victims of these occupational diseases. 

Today, working with asbestos requires strict controls. Having a licensing system in place ensures that only trained people can work with asbestos or supervise other people who are working with asbestos.

The Australian Asbestos Network website is a one-stop-shop for information about asbestos in Australia.  It has been put together by a team of media researchers from Murdoch and Monash universities working with Australia‚Äôs top medical and public health researchers.  On this site you can find  information on asbestos-related diseases, health information for work and home, and also learn about the history of asbestos in Australia through the voices of the people who have shared their personal stories of the mills, mine sites, factories, and everyday living with asbestos. 

Frequently asked questions

  1. What products might asbestos be found in?
  2. Do I require a licence to remove asbestos?
  3. How do I dispose of asbestos products?

More frequently asked questions about asbestos can be found here.

Resources available on this subject