Today we’re going to be talking about Asbestos Management for Work Health and Safety.
Asbestos is something that you may find in certain products and buildings. The likelihood of asbestos being there will vary depending on the location of your building.
In Australia, we know that buildings built before 1991 have a much higher likelihood of having asbestos contained in them because of the fact that around this time asbestos was starting to be phased out. Certainly, anything newer than 2001 should be OK, but we need to consider all possibilities when it comes to some of those older buildings.
How do you know if a building has asbestos in it?
You need to engage a competent person to do that identification – it’s not something that can be done by the average person.
If you do not have someone competent in this area, you must assume that there is asbestos present because of the time that the building was built.
Now before we go any further, we just need to understand a couple of other things that will change the risk to do with asbestos and that is the type.
There are two different types of asbestos that have different levels of risk associated to them, these are:
- friable asbestos
- non-friable asbestos
What is the difference between friable asbestos and non-friable asbestos?
Friable asbestos is asbestos that can be crumbled away and easily removed via non-mechanical means. Whereas non-friable (bonded asbestos) is contained within a substrate like glue and it would take some mechanical means like cutting or drilling to release that asbestos into the air.
So, once we identify or assume that there is asbestos present in our building, we may do a further risk assessment on that actual asbestos. It’s important that we identify the high-risk asbestos like the friable asbestos, which should be removed.
Some other types of non-friable asbestos, if they’re very safe, very well contained not likely to be disturbed, may actually be better left in place, the process of removing it might be riskier than actually leaving it there.
How to Create an Asbestos Register
If you still have asbestos in your building after discussing the option of elimination, you must create an asbestos register. This is a list of all the places where asbestos is in the building, which must be able to be produced and shown to tradespeople who come in and potentially do work on the building.
We must also develop an asbestos management plan. An asbestos management plan gives us information about things like:
- Removal and disposal of our asbestos
- Training that we might be providing to our employees with regards to the asbestos location
- Health monitoring (if there’s been a potential exposure to asbestos, it’s important that we do health monitoring of our employees afterwards)
- Any specific work procedures to do with that asbestos and any specific PPE that might be need to be used at different times of that asbestos
It’s important that our asbestos management plan does specify that we’re not to work on the asbestos unless it’s absolutely necessary.
There’s a quick summary of asbestos management within your building. There is a lot more requirements with regards to removal of asbestos and there is particular licencing that’s associated with that, but we’re just talking about management of your asbestos within your building.
- You need to identify or assume that there is asbestos.
- If you’ve identified and there is no asbestos, happy days.
- If it is there is, or you assume it’s there, you develop a register and you develop a comprehensive asbestos management plan which includes all the details about how you’re going to deal with that asbestos, how you’re going to deal with the people that might potentially be coming in contact with it.
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