From the Second World War to 1954 over 70,000 houses were built from asbestos in New South Wales alone, accounting for 52% of all houses built. In Australia as a whole, until the 1960s, at least 25% of all new housing was clad in asbestos cement. Asbestos products continued to be widely used in a range of building materials up until the mid to late 1980s. If a house was built during, or now renovated from, this period it would most likely contain some asbestos. Therefore before renovating, repairing and removing materials from a house built during this period it is very important to know how dangerous asbestos is and the precautions that you should take.
There are a number of websites that are very informative such as:
The asbestosawareness.com.au website describes why asbestos is dangerous, where it can be found in the home, how to remove it safely, how to deal with it and how to disposing of it and further information about asbestos. There is also an informative searchable database on asbestos products. Their tag line is: think smart, think safe, think asbestosawareness.com.au. It’s not worth the risk!
The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) was established on 1 July 2013 to provide a national focus on asbestos issues which goes beyond workplace safety to encompass environmental and public health concerns. The agency aims to ensure asbestos issues receive the attention and focus needed to drive change across all levels of government.
The ASEA recently released a guide on the process for taking samples of asbestos for testing and getting an asbestos survey on your property. The only way to be certain that something contains asbestos is to have a sample of the material tested. ASEA recommends that all testing be undertaken by a laboratory accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities to undertake asbestos testing to Australian Standard AS 4964 Method for the qualitative identification of asbestos in bulk samples or a laboratory recommended by the work health and safety regulator in your state or territory. It is recommended that samples be collected by an experienced professional such as an occupational hygienist or a licenced asbestos removalist, or by an accredited laboratory or inspection body.
If you decide that you want to take the samples yourself, it is vital that you take appropriate precautions ensure you do not expose yourself or others to asbestos fibres. For more information on Asbestos in the Home click here
This guide provides useful information to enable householders to sensibly and safely manage the risks arising from any occasional encounters with asbestos materials in and around their homes, especially during home renovations.
The guide was produced by the Environmental Health Standing Committee (enHealth) and endorsed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. It is a national publication to which state and territory governments and the Australian Government have contributed – February 2013
The Department of Health also provide a list of frequently asked questions
SafeWork Australia have developed a model Code of Practice on How to manage and control asbestos in the workplace. The Code of Practice provides practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking on how to manage risks associated with asbestos and asbestos containing material (ACM) at the workplace and thereby minimise the incidence of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
NSW Government – SafeWork NSW
HACA works to improve the management, monitoring and response to asbestos issues in NSW by developing coordinated prevention programs.
These programs include:
SafeWork have a registry of licensed asbestos assessors who undertake air monitoring, clearance inspections or the issuing of clearance certificates for removal of friable asbestos in various regions. Visit SafeWork licensed asbestos assessor
Fire damaged asbestos materials can only be cleaned up by licensed asbestos removalists with a Class A (friable) asbestos removal licence. Select ‘Friable asbestos removal work’ and your region from the SafeWork licensed asbestos assessor website.
For more information on safely managing asbestos contact HACA on:
T: 13 10 50
The ASEA website provides information about asbestos and asbestos related matters and also has an extensive list of organisation in all states and territories (including those below) for government agencies, support groups, NGO’s, research, industry groups and associations.