Asbestos at home

This article is useful reading for “Individuals who have found asbestos in their home”.

Introduction

Asbestos is a substance that can have potentially fatal health effects. While asbestos is now banned from use it was a component of thousands of different products used in the community and industry from the 1940s until the late 1980s.

Disturbed or broken asbestos products or materials can release minute asbestos fibres that once airborne are capable of being inhaled deep into a person’s lungs.

These respirable fibres are a major health hazard and the adverse health effects, such as lung cancer, can take decades to become apparent. The lack of immediate health effects has often meant that victims are unaware of the dangers they are exposed to which means that exposure to the hazard can continue over a long period causing serious health effects.

Due to the serious health risks associated with asbestos it is essential that exposure to it is effectively managed.

Identifying asbestos

There are three main types of asbestos:

  • Chrysotile;
  • Amosite and;
  • Crocidolite.

They are usually referred to as white, brown and blue asbestos respectively. However they cannot be identified just by their colour. Laboratory analysis is required to properly identify them properly.

Where might I find asbestos?

In Queensland from 1940 until the late 1980s bonded asbestos was commonly used in the manufacture of asbestos-cement corrugated and flat sheets (fibro) for roofing and walls. Undisturbed or painted fibro does not pose a health risk.

Thermal or acoustic insulation used in homes may have also contained friable asbestos, the easily crumbled form of asbestos that can be reduced to powder by hand.

Friable asbestos is extremely dangerous and must only be removed by a certified asbestos removalist (holding either a current licence for asbestos removal work issued between 1 February 2002 and 31 December 2005 or an 'A' class licence for asbestos removal work issued from 1 January 2006 ).

What to do

Removal of less than 10m squared of bonded asbestos does not require a license, but the law does require that it is carried out by a competent person.

A competent person is a person who possesses adequate qualifications, such as suitable training and sufficient knowledge, experience or skill, to perform a specific task safely.

Removal of 10m squared or more of bonded asbestos or any quantity of friable asbestos - Work to remove any amount of friable asbestos must be done by a certified asbestos removalist (holding either a current licence for asbestos removal work issued between 1 February 2002 and 31 December 2005 or an 'A' class licence for asbestos removal work issued from 1 January 2006).

Work to remove any asbestos material must be done to comply with the asbestos removal code and the asbestos management code.

From 1 July 2006:

  • Work to remove 10m2 or more of bonded asbestos-containing material must also be done by a certified asbestos removalist;
  • The required licences for asbestos removal are;
  • A' Class licences covering work involving both the removal of friable asbestos-containing material and bonded asbestos material of 10m2 or more. People who hold a licence to carry out the removal of asbestos issued between 1 February 2002 and 31 December 2005 will be deemed to hold an 'A' Class licence;
  • 'B' Class licences only covering work to remove 10m2 or more of bonded asbestos material. Such a licence does not permit its holder to remove friable asbestos.

Your responsibilities as a client

A client is defined as a person in control of a house or building (either the owner, occupier, lessee or employer) who commissions asbestos removal work:

  • Under Part 7 of the asbestos removal code the client must do the following;
  • Ensure that an asbestos removalist is used to perform asbestos removal work. (Removal of friable asbestos requires a certified asbestos removalist. Removal of 10m2 or more of bonded asbestos requires a certified asbestos removalist from 1 July 2006. Removal of less than 10m2 of bonded asbestos does not require a certified asbestos removalist, but the asbestos removalist must be competent);
  • Nominate one or more people to liaise with the asbestos removalist;
  • Request the details of the removalist's licence (if the removal work is for friable asbestos or 10m2 or more of bonded asbestos);
  • Ensure a copy of the workplace’s register of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) is given to the asbestos removalist. If there is no register of ACM it is the owner’s responsibility to create one before work starts.

The owner must provide an asbestos removalist with detailed work specifications and requirements. This information is to include details of what is to be removed, where it is located and any hazards that may be associated with the asbestos removal work.

Please note that the information provided on this page:

  • Does not provide a complete or authoritative statement of the law;
  • Does not constitute legal advice by Net Lawman;
  • Does not create a contractual relationship;
  • Does not form part of any other advice, whether paid or free.
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