Asbestos management resources package launched
If undisturbed, well maintained, and in stable, sealed and good condition, asbestos and asbestos-containing-materials (ACMs) are unlikely to pose health risks.
However, risks occur when ACMs are disturbed during maintenance, refurbishment or demolition when microscopic fibres are released and can be inhaled when ACMs are damaged, broken, cut, drilled, sawn, sanded, scraped, waterblasted or if disturbed when using tools – particularly power tools which release a high concentration of fibres.
Preventing exposure to asbestos fibres is the most effective way of preventing asbestos-related diseases. With 13 Australians dying every week from asbestos-related diseases, 12 from malignant mesothelioma and another 13 diagnosed with this incurable cancer, it’s very important that all those working in the commercial and non-residential property sector ensure compliance with regulations to minimise exposure of workers, tradespeople and bystanders.
To address the need for improved, safer management of asbestos and ACMs in commercial and non-residential property settings, the national Asbestos Awareness Campaign has developed a free, user-friendly asbestos management resource package to help improve regulatory compliance across the sector.
The Asbestos Management Handbook for Commercial and Non-residential Properties provides property owners, managers, developers and workers with essential, practical, user-friendly guidelines and tools to manage ACMs in line with requirements. The comprehensive Handbook, Asbestos Management Templates and Fact Sheets can be downloaded from https://asbestosawareness.com.au/commercial-properties/commercial-downloads/.
Designed for audiences like property owners, agents, managers, builders, contractors, subcontractors, tradespeople and workers, the Asbestos Management Handbook, Templates and Fact Sheets were developed in consultation with stakeholders from the building, property management and government sectors to improve compliance in the commercial and non-residential property sector.
The Handbook includes an extensive list of building types which includes commercial, industrial, government, recreational, agricultural, hospitality, health services and education facilities, religious, transport and tourism structures. It outlines the roles and responsibilities for the management of asbestos and ACM, provides examples of best practice along with lists and images to demonstrate ACMs commonly found in commercial and non-residential properties.
Importantly, the Handbook provides practical guidance on the steps required to adhere to regulations including how to develop and manage an Asbestos Management Plan, an Asbestos Register, the training requirements for workers, and it defines Asbestos Inspections, Surveys, Risk Assessments and the steps required when asbestos removal is underway.
“While there are strict requirements for the management, control and removal of asbestos or ACM, one of the dominant challenges affecting compliance has been the absence of user-friendly resources for people unfamiliar with technical information, with some finding the regulations rather extensive and complex to follow and implement,” says Prensa managing consultant, occupational hygiene and hazardous materials management specialist John Batty.
“We know that the greater the exposure to asbestos fibres, the greater the risk of developing life-threatening asbestos related diseases. In developing this essential, user-friendly information package making the requirements easily accessible, the new Handbook featuring step-by-step procedures complimented by Fact Sheets and Templates is a long- Media Release: Asbestos Management Package For Commercial & Non-Residential – 16 January 2018 2 awaited vital resource that will help improve compliance in the sector resulting in improved safe work management procedures and the prevention of avoidable exposure to asbestos fibres by workers and bystanders.
“Over the years we’ve seen a number of incidences where the containment, control and removal of ACMs in commercial properties has been mismanaged with the health of workers and bystanders unnecessarily put at risk.
“In commercial and non-residential properties where asbestos has been identified by a competent person (such as an occupational hygienist or a licensed asbestos assessor) areas must be itemised in an Asbestos Register and should be removed (where practical) by licensed asbestos removalists or encapsulated and labelled prior to conducting work.
“While property owners and managers are duty bound to develop an Asbestos Register that itemises all known or suspected ACMs, one of the challenges has been a lack of understanding of regulatory requirements, safe work procedures and the inability to identify the many and various types of asbestos and ACM and its potential locations.
“The free Handbook and resource package will be a welcome source providing essential information to assist this sector ensuring ACMs or suspected ACMs are itemised in an Asbestos Register and managed according to regulations.”
Asbestos can be prevalent in commercial and non-residential properties because it was used in the manufacture of an extensive range of building and decorator materials that may include mechanical services (fire dampeners, attenuators, exhaust fans, HVAC Ducts, gaskets, filters), fibre cement products and linings (AC sheeting, cladding, roofing, moulded cement products, linings, mastics, fire doors) electrical (switchboards, metre boards, fuses, circuit breakers), floor finishes (adhesives and backing of vinyl, lino, carpet or ceramic tiles, carpet underlay, mastics, concrete flooring), elevators, plumbing (pipes, lagging, sealants), textiles (ropes, fire blankets, cable sheathing, felts), sprayed insulation (fire proofing, thermal protection and sound proofing) and in lift brake pads and mechanisms.
The Handbook presents technical information and regulatory requirements in a way that everyone can understand. It provides a comprehensive list of the many various property types that may be affected by ACM while the Templates (available in Word and Excel) for developing an Asbestos Register, Asbestos Management Plan, Asbestos Removal Record, Workers Training Records, a Model Asbestos Policy and Model Asbestos Management procedures for Contractors and Builders, has simplified what has previously been considered difficult to navigate.
The sector will also find the Fact Sheets on Roles and Responsibilities for Management of Asbestos and ACM, the procedures for Unexpected Asbestos Finds or Incidents, and the step-by-step application of Personal Protective and Respiratory Equipment, all valuable resources when training workers on asbestos safe work management procedures.
The Handbook will allow building owners, managers, builders, contractors, tradies and workers to better understand the various levels of responsibility, implement safe work management procedures and provide them with the tools needed to develop and manage an Asbestos Register and Asbestos Management Plan to manage asbestos safely and effectively.
“While larger companies and organisations may have detailed asbestos management policies and procedures in place, every level of business in this sector can benefit from utilising this resource package, small businesses and community based organisations (councils, charities etc.) that may not have the internal resources to develop their own safe work procedures with the big winners being property owners, managers and tradies,” says John.