Respect Asbestos Risks

During National Asbestos Awareness Month (1-30 November) managers of commercial and non-residential properties and tradespersons are being urged to respect the risks of asbestos and download free resources from asbestosawareness.com.au which were developed in association with, health and safety regulators to ensure safe, effective management of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in accordance with regulations.

With the manufacture and installation of more than 3000 ACM products commonly used in commercial and non-residential properties built or refurbished before 2004; those responsible for managing these properties and the tradies who work on them, must ensure they adhere to strict asbestos management regulations. However, compliance among tradespersons and commercial property managers has sometimes proven challenging.

Clare Collins, Director of the National Asbestos Awareness Month campaign said, “We aim to reinforce how vitally important it is for tradies and those working in the commercial and non-residential property sector to ensure they adhere to the required health and safety regulations when working in environments where exposure to asbestos fibres poses risks.

“Since launching the campaign in 2011, all too often we’ve heard frightening stories of how tradies have ignored the warnings when working on various property types voicing the ‘she’ll be right, mate’ attitude,” Ms Collins said.

“However, with the numbers of asbestos-related diseases predicted to rise as a result of complacency, tradies and those responsible for managing commercial and non-residential properties must start to respect the dangers of asbestos and ensure they understand the risks and adhere to regulations when managing asbestos.

“While asbestosawareness.com.au provides a breadth of information for tradies including the Asbestos Awareness Guide For Tradespeople Working On Residential Properties and 22 trade-specific Guides along with a wide range of Fact Sheets; the Asbestos Product Database provides tradies and commercial and non-residential property managers with a visual tool to help identify ACMs and if asbestos is suspected, we recommend using only occupational hygienists or licenced asbestos assessors to confirm asbestos is present through testing.

“While some products are unique to commercial properties, there is definitely cross-over between the uses of ACMs in residential, non-residential and commercial properties with many of the product types featured on the Asbestos Product Database found across all variations of building constructions.

“Only last week while capturing images of ACMs at a non-residential property (a community and childcare centre), there were a wide range of products common to both domestic and commercial properties, particularly in the construction of the facility (walls and roofing), as well as in the electrical fuse box, floorcoverings, bathrooms and kitchens,” she said.

“For commercial and non-residential property managers, the Asbestos Management Handbook for Commercial and Non-residential Properties and templates provides a free, user-friendly asbestos management resource package to help improve regulatory compliance across the sector by providing owners, managers, developers and workers with essential, practical guides and tools to manage ACMs in line with requirements,” said Ms Collins.

Designed for a broad audience including property owners, agents, managers, builders, contractors, subcontractors, tradespeople and workers, the Asbestos Management Handbook, Templates and Fact Sheets were developed by asbestosawareness.com.au in consultation with stakeholders to improve compliance in the commercial and non-residential property sector.

Covering a comprehensive list of building types including commercial, industrial, government, recreational, agricultural, hospitality, health services, education and religious facilities, transport and tourism structures; the Handbook details roles and responsibilities and features best practice case studies and images of ACMs commonly found in commercial and non-residential properties built or refurbished prior to 2004.

The Handbook offers practical step-by-step guidance on adhering to regulations including how to develop and manage an Asbestos Management Plan, an Asbestos Register, workers training requirements and it defines Asbestos Inspections, Surveys, Risk Assessments and the requirements for asbestos removal.

John Batty, President of the Asbestos & Hazardous-Materials Consultants Association (AHCA) and the Managing Director of EDP Consultants, a global provider of Health, Safety and Environmental Services said, “Asbestos management for property owners and people with management and control of facilities can be challenging due to the complex and extensive nature of the regulations, codes, guidelines and standards.

“For people not familiar with these requirements it can feel overwhelming leading some individuals to ignore their statutory requirements,” he said.
“The free Handbook can assist these individuals by providing a user-friendly step-by-step procedure to guide them through their responsibilities while also limiting the risk to workers and users,” said Mr Batty.

“While the Handbook does not remove the requirement to engage suitably experienced and licensed professions such as licensed asbestos assessors and removal contractors it does ensure those responsible for the management of commercial and non-residential properties are aware of their requirements,” he said.

“During National Asbestos Awareness Month I’d implore all people responsible for the management or control of facilities to download the comprehensive Asbestos Management Handbook, Templates and Fact Sheets from asbestosawareness.com.au and ensure they are managing the risk associated with asbestos because it’s just not worth the risk,” Mr Batty said.

Now in its tenth year, the National Asbestos Awareness campaign is Australia’s longest-running, multi-award winning annual campaign dedicated to alerting Australians to the dangers of asbestos and providing information on how to manage it safely in accordance with regulations.

Since launching in 2011, asbestosawareness.com.au has provided homeowners, renovators, tradies, managers of commercial and non-residential properties and regional property owners with essential resources in the prevention of asbestos-related diseases.

With over 2.2 million pageviews, more than 1 million sessions, over 700,000 unique users and in providing over 1500 resources having been downloaded over 500,000 times, asbestosawareness.com.au is Australia’s leading, most comprehensive, trusted asbestos information resource.