Asbestos fact sheet

Public news

Whilst COVID-19 has understandably been a health priority for workplaces recently, appropriately managing asbestos in Australian workplaces is equally important when we consider that an estimated 4,000 Australians die each year from asbestos-related diseases.

As recently as last month, an asbestos removalist and demolition contractor failed to identify asbestos-backed vinyl floor sheeting in a property before removing it. This potentially exposed their workers, and others, to friable asbestos and resulted in the business having its asbestos license suspended.

SafeWork SA is currently undertaking a state-wide compliance campaign on asbestos management in buildings built prior to 31 December 2003. This will involve inspectors from SafeWork SA attending workplaces and checking that people with management and control of the buildings have ensured:

  • that asbestos-containing material at the workplace is identified
  • the location of asbestos is clearly indicated and recorded in an asbestos register
  • there is a written asbestos management plan if asbestos has been identified, or is likely to enter the workplace in old vehicles or old components
  • that the asbestos register has been reviewed/revised prior to demolition or refurbishment commencing.
  • All asbestos within a workplace must, as far as reasonably practicable, be identified by a person with appropriate training, qualifications or experience. An asbestos register is then required to be prepared and kept at the workplace.

    The asbestos register is a document that lists all identified (or assumed) asbestos in a workplace. An asbestos register is not required if a workplace has been constructed after 31 December 2003 and if no asbestos has been identified or will likely be present at the workplace.

    Maintaining an asbestos register is a requirement under the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012, and a failure to comply may result in fines up to $18,000 for a business or on-the-spot expiations up to $2,160. The following information should be included within the asbestos register:

  • the date on which asbestos was located (or assumed)
  • the location, type and condition of the asbestos
  • details of any past asbestos removal work

  • Examples of an asbestos register can be found within the relevant Code of Practice located HERE.

    Further information on identifying and controlling the risks from asbestos can be located HERE.

    If you have any questions about the information above, please contact the MTA WR team on 8291 2000, or at wr@mtasant.com.au.