National Asbestos Awareness Month will launch on the 1st of November reminding Australian’s that asbestos could be found in any building constructed or renovated before 1987.
The Asbestos Education Committee notes Australia was among the largest consumers of asbestos-containing materials in the world with asbestos used in the manufacture of a broad range of building and decorator products that can still be found in brick, weatherboard, fibro, other forms of cladding and in a range of other types of materials.
More specifically asbestos could be under floor coverings including carpets, linoleum and vinyl tiles, behind wall and floor tiles, in cement floors, internal and external walls, ceilings and ceiling space (insulation), eaves, garages, roofs, around hot water pipes, within electrical and plumbing components and fences as examples.
If asbestos-containing materials are disturbed during renovation or maintenance and fibres are released that can be inhaled they may cause asbestos-related diseases including malignant mesothelioma.
The Committee also reminds us that there is no cure for mesothelioma, a cancer that can develop between 20-50 years after inhaling asbestos fibres – and the average survival time following diagnosis is just 10-12 months. Inhaling asbestos fibres can also cause lung cancer, asbestosis and benign pleural disease.
Because there is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres, it’s extremely important to safely manage asbestos-containing materials that may be found in and around workplaces.
The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 Sections 425 and 429 address the obligations of persons with management or control of a workplace to ensure when an asbestos register and asbestos management plan are to be in place.
If a building was constructed after 31 December 2003 and no asbestos has been identified in the workplace and if there is not likely to be asbestos present at the workplace from time to time then an asbestos register is not required.
When asbestos has been identified in the workplace an asbestos register is required and the person who has management or control of the location must ensure that an asbestos management plan is also in place that among other matters:
• Identifies the location of the asbestos.
• Details decisions about management of that asbestos and how those decisions were arrived at.
• Provides procedures for dealing with incidents involving the asbestos.
• Is up to date and reviewed at least every five (5) years or when otherwise requested when the nature of the asbestos or circumstances change.
• Is accessible to any worker intending to carry out work at the location.
Beyond the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 stakeholders should also refer to the Safeworks NSW Code of Practice – How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the workplace.
The asbestosawareness.com.au website provides information about asbestos and how to manage it safely as well as provides an asbestos products database containing details about the most common items that may contain asbestos.
Australia’s national Asbestos Awareness Month campaign is a world-leading awareness and education campaign in the prevention of asbestos-related diseases. It is the initiative of the Asbestos Education Committee working in partnership with the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute and the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities.
For further real estate sales, leasing and property management or business sale requirements across metropolitan Sydney or to discuss asbestos registers and asbestos management plans as they may relate to the property management of your property please contact Tod Anderson on 0412 350 285.