Asbestos AwarenessAsbestos Awareness

Asbestos is a naturally occurring rock fibre mined in much the same way as any other mineral out of the ground. It may be through open cut or tunnelling. The mined lumps are broken down into loose fibres by milling on site and transported to the factories. These are silky, soft to touch but also strong.
Asbestos has been in use in human culture back at least 4,500 years, when evidence shows that inhabitants of East Finland used asbestos to strengthen earthenware pots and cooking utensils.

Asbestos has been in use in human culture back at least 4,500 years, when evidence shows that inhabitants of East Finland used asbestos to strengthen earthenware pots and cooking utensils.
There are many different types of asbestos.

Those in common industrial use are:
– Chrysotile – white asbestos
– Crocidolite – blue asbestos
– Amosite – brown asbestos

Asbestos was mined in many States of Australia and imported to be used to help build our country. The Asbestos was then transported from these mines and seaports to major production plants in capital cities around Australia. The Asbestos was added to other material to make, amongst other things building products.

Australia banned mining and later banned the use, supply, and importation of asbestos.

WHS Legislation relating to Asbestos Awareness training

Additional requirements have been placed on a workplace if it is a building that was constructed,
– in Queensland – on or before 1 December 1989, or
– all other states and Territories – on or before 31st December 2003.

In these instances, the PCBU has a duty to inspect the workplace to identify if there is asbestos. Even if no asbestos has been identified at the workplace, the PCBU must create a register to at least state that a competent person has determined that there is no Asbestos on site. If they do identify asbestos, they have the option of removal or keeping it safe in-situ and record the condition in a register and complete regular inspections by a competent person.

If asbestos has been identified there is a requirement to have an Asbestos Awareness Plan. The asbestos management plan must include:
• the identification of the asbestos or ACM
• decisions/reasons from management of asbestos e.g. as safe work procedures and control measures
• procedures for dealing with incidents in relation to asbestos or ACM
• workers carrying out work involving asbestos

The plan must be readily accessible to workers and others at the workplace, kept up to date, and be reviewed at least once every five years or sooner if:
• a control measure or the register is reviewed
• asbestos is removed from, or disturbed, sealed or enclosed
• the plan is no longer adequate for managing asbestos or ACM at the workplace
• a health and safety representative requests a review in certain circumstances.

If the building falls outside this criterion there is no requirement to have a register.

Asbestos Hazards

Many of these Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) we manufactured or imported are still in many workplaces and homes around Australia. Some in the form of ‘Fibro’, Super 6 roofing, vinyl floor tiles, carpet and even window putty. Whilst the asbestos fibres are contained in the material they are generally safe if workers do not cut, abrade drill or even water blast the surfaces or be involved in Asbestos removal.

The damaging fibres of asbestos that are liberated by these processes are too small to see with the naked eye and require the use of specialist equipment by competent persons. It is these small fibres that are the most dangerous to our health.

Workers who may be exposed to asbestos should be provided Asbestos Awareness training to gain a better insight into the dangers. Any person workers engaged by the person, whom the person reasonably believes may be involved in asbestos removal work or in the carrying out of asbestos-related work, are trained in the identification and safe handling of, and suitable control measures for, asbestos and ACM.

For more information

More information about asbestos registers and asbestos management plans can be found in the Model Code of Practice How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace.

We are also here to assist and currently provide this training to many workplaces. Contact us today for an obligation free quote on any of our services