Did you know asbestos was used in more than 3000 common building materials before it was banned?
Exposure to asbestos fibres may cause diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
Australia has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world. This cancer has no cure, with 700-800 Australians diagnosed every year, and predications we’ll reach 18 000 cases by 2020.
Tradespeople are among the most at risk for asbestos exposure. It’s important to be aware of where asbestos could be, and control the risk.
Always check for asbestos before starting a job
If you’re a tradesperson conducting maintenance work on a pre-1990 build, ensure you know what to look for and identify any areas with potential asbestos-containing material before work begins. Check out the Find and identify tool on asbestos.vic.gov.au to help you. Even if you’ve been in the game a long time, you might be surprised at what materials contain asbestos.
If you’re an employer of tradespeople, you have a duty to provide instruction, training or supervision so people can perform work in a way that’s safe and without risks to health.
You must ensure there’s a system in place to identify, manage and where necessary, arrange for the safe removal of asbestos in the workplace. Check out asbestos.vic.gov.au to find a licensed removalist in your area. You may also need to maintain an asbestos register; see Asbestos registers below for more information.
Where you can find asbestos
Common asbestos-containing materials (ACM) include:
- cement roofing
- cement sheet walls and ceilings, including brick cladding
- flues, downpipes, guttering, and water and sewerage pipes
- vinyl floor tiles and sheets
- insulation materials
- rubber, plastic and paint products
- sealants, gaskets, adhesives and fillers
- telecommunications pits and pipes
- air-conditioning ducting joints
- electrical switchboards.
By law, anyone who manages or controls a Victorian workplace where asbestos material has been identified must keep an asbestos register. Usually this person is the owner of the workplace or a representative of the owner. A copy of the asbestos register must be provided to any employer who is a tenant in the workplace.
An asbestos register makes it easier for workers to know if asbestos is present where they are working.
Registers must include the ACM:
- nature - friable (can be crumbled) or non-friable (cannot be crumbled)
Visit asbestos.vic.gov.au for further examples of ACM, the Find and identify asbestos tool, licensed removalists in your area and much more.