Category: Asbestos

Asbestos in Australia

Asbestos PicAsbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals found in rock formations. Three types of asbestos were mined in Australia: white, blue and brown asbestos.

Asbestos becomes a potential risk to health if fibres are suspended in air and breathed into the lungs. Breathing asbestos fibres into the lungs can cause a range of diseases, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.

In Australia, asbestos cement materials were first manufactured in the 1920′s and were commonly used in the manufacture of residential building materials from the mid-1940′s until the late 1980′s. During the 1980′s, asbestos cement materials were phased out in favour of asbestos-free products

Australia banned the use or import of blue and brown asbestos or asbestos products in the mid-1980s, and banned all manufacture or import of white asbestos products in December 2003. From 31 December 2003, the total ban on manufacture, use, reuse, import, transport, storage or sale of all forms of asbestos came into force.

Asbestos fibres are not visible to the naked eye. They are very light, remain airborne for a long time, and can be carried by wind and air currents over large distances.

Employers need to understand the extent of their management or control. For example, if you lease or rent your premises - then you should check your leasing agreement to establish to what extent you may have management or control.

Employers are responsible for additional legal duties in their capacity as an employer in relation to managing asbestos.  For example, employers may have a duty to consult under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 in relation to managing and removing asbestos in in relation to managing and removing asbestos in their workplace.

Asbestos removal work is dangerous, and should always be performed by a Licensed Asbestos Removalist who is trained to remove and dispose of asbestos safely, without risk to you and your employees in the workplace.

Posted By: Cathal Uniacke – cathal@custodiansafety.com.au