In Australia, asbestos products were used in the construction industry from the 1940’s to the late 1980s, and in the production of plant and car parts up until 2003. In some overseas countries, asbestos is still being made and can be found in some imported products.
Inhalation of Asbestos fibres can lead to a range of diseases including asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestosis causes scaring of the lungs while mesothelioma is a cancer of the lung linings and can take a long period to develop after exposure.
Some tradespeople could be exposed to asbestos through disturbance of asbestos containing materials whilst cutting, drilling, grinding or breaking. Most asbestos containing materials are classed as non-friable which means that the fibres are bonded such as in the case of asbestos cement sheeting. However, friable materials such as pipe lagging and insulation pose a much greater risk.
Asbestos can be present in many construction materials, and disturbing this asbestos can result in the release of asbestos fibres leading to a significant health hazard and also a potential breach of Occupational/Work Health and Safety Legislation.
All workplaces are required to maintain an asbestos register which details the potential location of asbestos materials and their condition in the workplace (known as a Division 5 Audit in Victoria). Prior to refurbishment or demolition, a more intrusive audit is required to be completed to ensure all asbestos is identified.
JTA Health Safety + Noise specialists have significant experience in assessing buildings and soil for the presence of Asbestos. Contact JTA today to ensure you are complying with your OHS/WHS obligations and keeping you and your workers safe.
WorkSafe Victoria, Compliance Code, Managing asbestos in workplaces, 2008
WorkSafe Australia, Code of Practice, How To Manage And Control Asbestos In The Workplace, 2011
JTA Abestos Training Programmes