Fibro and Asbestos
NSW Government Information on asbestos - 2.4 Mb
Information on Fibro and Asbestos for Home Owners and Renovators - 129 KB
What is Asbestos
|Fibro (Asbestos Cement Sheeting) Shed. Source: Workcover NSW, Working with Asbestos.
Asbestos is defined as a hazardous substance made from fibrous silicate minerals including actinolite, amosite (brown asbestos), anthophyllite, chrysotile (white asbestos) crocidolite (blue asbestos) and tremolite or any mixture of the forms.
Why is Asbestos So Dangerous?
Asbestos demonstrates the unique ability for the visible strands, bundles and fibres to split - and then continue to split until they reach microscopic levels of detection. The fibres become so small they remain airborne longer and can pass undetected into the respiratory tract. Blue and brown asbestos have sharp straight shards that tend to do more damage than the fibres of white asbestos, which can be seen under a microscope to be curly. Breathing in the fibres brings a risk of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Asbestos Containing Materials
Asbestos is known as bonded asbestos and friable asbestos. Bonded asbestos has asbestos fibres bonded to another material such as a cement or resin binder. This material cannot be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder by hand pressure when dry. In some cases when damaged, bonded asbestos may become friable asbestos. Friable asbestos means any material that contains asbestos and is in the form of a powder or can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure when dry.
Some materials that can contain asbestos are:
- Asbestos cement products – generally a grey brittle material that contains 10 – 15% asbestos fibres. As well as being found in cladding and roofing materials including guttering, it is also found in pipes and flues.
- Asbestos boarding – contains up to 40% asbestos and the board can be pale grey and of varying thickness. This product was used extensively for creating walls and partitions particularly for fire separation and was used for ceiling tiles.
- Sprayed asbestos – can consist of up to 85% asbestos mixed with a variety of other materials. The material is often quite loose and can easily give rise to asbestos dust.
- Some Other Materials containing asbestos: some applied coatings and insulation, sealants and mastics, millboard lining of switchboxes, brake linings, gaskets, vinyl floor tiles, stoves - old domestic type, laboratory ovens, bitumen based water proofing and many other materials.
|Corrugated Asbestos Cement Roofing. Source: Workcover NSW, Working with Asbestos.
Issues relating to the identification, handling and removal of asbestos and asbestos containing material is governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 No 10 and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 . The Act and Regulation are regulated and enforced by WorkCover NSW however the act applies to all places of work and all involved in the work.
The removal of more than 10m2(total of the job) of bonded asbestos may only be done by someone appropriately licensed by WorkCover NSW for bonded asbestos removal.
If the total of the asbestos material to be removed is under this amount, then a license is not required however precautions are still required to be undertaken to ensure the safe removal of bonded asbestos for the removalist and others in close proximity.
A WorkCover licensed friable asbestos removalist must always carry out the removal of friable asbestos. A site specific permit from WorkCover must be obtained to carry out this type of work.
Asbestos containing material can not be used or reused in any way and must not be sold.
Further information can be obtained from the WorkCover NSW website http://www.WorkCover.nsw.gov.au/.
A fact sheet with frequently asked question can be viewed at www.nsw.gov.au/fibro/.
Call WorkCover NSW 13 10 50 for more information about legislation and asbestos.
The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 No 10 and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 set specific requirements for asbestos.
Council’s Role and Responsibility in Relation to Asbestos
While the controlling authority regarding the removal of asbestos is Workcover NSW Councils have an important role to play in ensuring safe and healthy conditions for people within the Council area.
The removal of asbestos will usually require an approval from Council. Very small quantities of bonded asbestos can be removed by a non licensed person but the requirements of the Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos (NOHSC:2002) 2005 still apply and must be complied with.
Complaints in regards to inappropriate handling of asbestos or asbestos containing material can be referred to WorkCover NSW if the site is a construction or demolition site and contractors are involved. Other matters should be referred to Council for investigation. Council is authorised to require work to rectify any conditions that are unhealthy or unsafe. Where approvals are required from Council, Council will require that any works involving material suspected of containing asbestos must be undertaken by an appropriately licensed person.
Approvals required to demolish or remove materials containing asbestos.
Approval from Council is required for the demolition of structures unless the demolition job meets the terms and the development standards of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the SEPP).
If the structure to be demolished could have been erected under the provisions of the SEPP then approval is not required from Council. However, the demolition must comply with AS 2601 – 2001, Demolition of Structures.
The Australian Standard for the Demolition of Structures requires that a competent person determine the presence of any hazardous substance which includes materials containing asbestos and that the asbestos containing material shall only be removed by a competent person.
The standard also specifies that a competent person is someone who as acquired through training, qualifications, experience or a combination of these, the knowledge and skills enabling that person to perform the task required by a recognised standard. So without appropriate training, asbestos removal must not be undertaken by the home owner.
Frequently Asked Questions
I think my neighbour is demolishing or breaking up material that might contain asbestos:
- If the structure is a minor structure that could be erected as exempt development approval from Council to demolish is not required. The demolition of a house or just the replacement of a roof or wall of a house requires approval from Council.
- Areas of asbestos containing material more than 10m² must be undertaken by a person suitably licensed by Workcover NSW.
- The requirements of the Code of Practice for the removal of asbestos must always be observed.
Can I re-use asbestos containing Material?
No, under no circumstances can asbestos containing material be used, reused or sold.
How do I know if material contains asbestos?
Only testing by qualified technicians can determine the presence of asbestos but if the fibre cement material is more that 20 years old it should be assumed that there is asbestos present.
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