Asbestos is a hazardous material that poses a risk to health by inhalation if the asbestos fibres become airborne and people are exposed to these airborne fibres. Once asbestos materials have been identified and assessed in an Asbestos Risk Assessment Audit, or a Hazardous Materials Audit, then effective management and control of all asbestos containing materials is essential. Other hazardous materials such as Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), lead paint, lead dust, Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) and Synthetic Mineral Fibres (SMF) also pose potential risks if not appropriately controlled.
Whilst each state and territory of Australia and New Zealand have slightly different Regulations and requirements, the Model Code of Practice (COP) 'How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace' (Safe Work Australia 2016) clearly documents the steps required to eliminate or minimise the risks of exposures to airborne asbestos fibres.
The Code of Practice is accepted as standard industry practice requiring PCBUs to:
- Develop, implement and maintain an asbestos management plan (AMP)
- Investigate for the presence or possible presence of asbestos; develop a register of identified or presumed asbestos containing materials (ACM), and to assess the condition of any ACM
- Develop measures to remove any ACM or minimise risks associated with any ACM. Ensure control measures are implemented as soon as possible
- Review the AMP at least every 5 years.
- Preparation and review of Asbestos Management Plans in conformance with the Code of Practice Code of Practice 'How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace' (Safe Work Australia 2016). A Plan will comprise practical control measures required for identified and presumed ACM, and will have clearly assigned responsibilities
- Development of site-specific procedures for management of asbestos and advisory notes for tenants, contractors and employees
- Development of ‘unexpected finds’ procedures – both within buildings/during construction or refurbishment works or within soil
- Development of emergency response procedures, in the event of an inadvertent asbestos disturbance
- Identification of asbestos containing materials in the workplace and preparation of an Asbestos Register
- Labelling of identified and presumed ACM in the workplace
- Awareness training for employees and contractors who may come into contact with ACM in a workplace