Asbestos – what do you need to do, and what does testing look like

Homes built or renovated  between 1950 and 2000 are likely to contain some asbestos. Therefore, every tradesperson is likely to come into contact with asbestos at work sooner or later. That’s why it’s important for you to understand how to manage the risk from working with or near asbestos, and how to protect yourself and others from exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. 


Surveying and Testing

Areas that we recommend getting tested are cladding, roofing, vinyl, fibre cement sheeting, internal ceilings, and plumbing lagging.


There are 3 main types of testing or surveying; Management, Refurbishment, and Demolition, and each of these is designed for a specific purpose.


  • Asbestos Management Survey: Are designed to locate asbestos in a property. This survey is typically used prior to minor maintenance work or to help manage any potential risks associated with asbestos.


  • Asbestos Refurbishment Survey: Are designed to locate asbestos in a property before major work commences.


  • Asbestos Demolition Survey: Are designed to locate asbestos in a property before it is demolished. This survey is also designed to give clearance to the area once demolition has been completed. 


It is important that when you are conducting work that requires planning permission, it is likely that you will require a demolition or refurbishment survey to search for asbestos present. As the contractor, you have a legal requirement to ensure asbestos is identified and removed before any work begins that may disturb the asbestos in your client’s home. 


You can refer to the SafeWork Australia website  for more details on asbestos here


Discovering Asbestos

What to do if you or your workers uncover or damage materials that may contain asbestos:

  • Stop work immediately. 
  • Keep people away. 
  • Minimise the risk of spreading contamination to other areas.
  • Get advice from an expert such as an asbestos assessor or a suitably qualified health and safety consultant. You can call our advisory team on 0800 555 339 and we will guide you through your next steps. 


Removing asbestos 

  • All friable asbestos removal work must be carried out by a licensed asbestos removalist. This includes work on asbestos lagging, asbestos insulation, and damaged asbestos board. 
  • If more than 10 m2 of non-friable asbestos has to be removed during a project, it must be removed by a licensed asbestos removalist. 
  • You can refer here for a register of Licensed Asbestos removalists .

You can view the SafeWork Australia  website to find out how to apply the 10 m2 rule to an object that is not flat, such as asbestos piping and other frequently asked questions relating to Asbestos Licensing here

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