FAQ About Asbestos

FAQ About Asbestos

FAQ About Asbestos In The Workplace, Answered


Asbestos is a mineral that was once prized for its several appealing properties. These properties include versatility, resistance to heat and fire, tensile strength, and insulation. However, the use of asbestos is now banned in several countries, including Australia, for causing mesothelioma cancer.


If you have just moved in to an office space and you suspect that asbestos is present, you might have several questions swirling in your mind. This short list of FAQ about asbestos seeks to answer those questions.


Where can you find asbestos?


Asbestos was widely used between 1930 and 1950. If you have moved into a property built within this timeframe, it is likely that asbestos was used in building the said structure. Typically, you’ll find asbestos in the roofs, insulation, wall and ceiling joints, fireplaces, stove-top pads, vinyl flooring, pipes, furnaces and door gaskets.


Who is authorised to remove asbestos?


If the asbestos found in a property is non-friable or bonded and is less than 10 square metres, you do not need a licence to remove it. However, when the amount exceeds 10 square metres or if the asbestos is non-bonded or friable, only a professional with the proper licence is allowed to remove it from a property.


How should asbestos be disposed of?


Regulation 5.52, Part 11 of the Code of Practice for Management of Asbestos in Workplaces outlines the proper way to handle, transport and dispose asbestos. If you are performing the removal of the asbestos by yourself, you should consult the Department of Environment Regulation’s Waste Management Division for guidance on asbestos disposal sites near your area.


What is the exposure standard for asbestos?


In Australia, workers and business owners are advised to avoid any exposure to asbestos. However, if exposure cannot be totally avoided, the standard level for exposure is 0.1 fibre/ml.


What type of personal protective equipment should be used in removing asbestos?


According to the Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos (2nd edition), people who are tasked to remove asbestos should wear disposable coveralls and either a P1 or P2 disposable respirator.


What type of tools should be used in asbestos removal?


In the removal of asbestos, the use of power tools is not advisable. If you wish to use power tools, they should be portable and have the dust suppression/extraction attachments.


What should be done to asbestos found in the workplace?


According to the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations, 1996, employers and other persons who manage a workplace have the responsibility to determine the presence and location of asbestos. Should asbestos be found, the information should be recorded with the asbestos register. If the presence of asbestos poses health risks, the business owner should enforce the appropriate control measures.