November is National Asbestos Awareness Month and combined with www.asbestosawareness.com.au Australians are being alerted to the dangers of asbestos during home renovations and maintenance by educating them about where asbestos might be found in and around homes and how to manage it safely.
Whether constructed of weatherboard, brick, fibro or has exterior cladding, asbestos can be found in and around 1-in-3 homes built or renovated before 1987.
Asbestos can be found in kitchens, bathrooms, laundries, under floor covering, behind wall and floor tiles, in cement floors, internal and external walls, ceilings, garages, eaves, fences, extensions and sheds. Asbestos could be anywhere!
Don’t play renovation roulette! Go Slow! Asbestos, it’s a NO GO!
Visit asbestosawareness.com.au for more information.
Key Resources for Home Renovators
Fact Sheet - Working Safely with Asbestos Around Home(PDF, 3MB)
Fact Sheet - Safe Practices For Homeowners Repairing or Removing Small Amounts of Asbestos Materials(PDF, 4MB)
Asbestos Awareness - Healthy House Checklist(PDF, 14MB)
As the generator and owner of the waste, you have a legal obligation under s143 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (“the Act”) to ensure the waste is transported to and disposed of at a facility that can lawfully be used as waste facility for that waste. In NSW, all asbestos sheeting or asbestos waste must be taken to a landfill that can lawfully receive this waste.
Transporters of asbestos waste must now use WasteLocate to provide information to the EPA regarding the movement of any load over 100kg of asbestos waste, or 10m2 or more of asbestos sheeting within NSW.
WasteLocate makes it easy for transporters to comply with these reporting obligations under the Waste Regulation and the Asbestos and Waste Tyre Guidelines by creating a consignment number, which can be used to track the location of the waste.
If you have paid for an asbestos removal service (e.g. from a household or construction site), you should request the WasteLocate consignment number from the transporter. You can then use this number to track the load at https://wastelocate.epa.nsw.gov.au/ to make sure it has reached its intended destination, just like a parcel in the post. If the load is not delivered, please contact the EPA.
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. Breathing in the fibres brings a risk of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
If you are thinking about renovating, you must be aware of asbestos. It is important for home owners and renovators to be aware of how to safely manage asbestos in and around the home. For more information visit asbestosawareness.com.au
Materials Containing Asbestos
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.
Guide for Renovators - Fibro & Asbestos(PDF, 129KB)
Fact Sheet - Asbestos(PDF, 2MB)
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 or 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.
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.
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 has 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.
For further information email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Council's Health and Environment Protection Division on +61 2 9843 0555.