The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 2004 and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations of 2007 lays down measures and procedures to be taken while removing asbestos either in residential or commercial sites. The term workplace in this sense is used to denote all sites where asbestos or asbestos containing material (ACM) has been found in either large or small quantities.
Examples of Asbestos Containing Material and areas that are likely to contain asbestos are :
Asbestos cement water pipes, asbestos cement sheets, boiler insulation, floor vinyl tiles, the lining of switchboards, flexible hoses and fire door insulation.
1. Non-Licensed Removalists
Removal work can be done by self-employed individuals, though only on a limited area.
2. Licensed Removalists
Class A : A holder of this license can remove both types of asbestos (friable and non-friable) on areas above 10 square meters.
Class B : A holder of this license can remove only up to 10 square meters of friable and non-friable asbestos or ACM.
3. Removal Plan
This is the framework that guides all the activities to take place. It covers the time span, a detailed job description plus tools needed, a budget sometimes, and the safety precautions to be put in place.
4. Atmospheric Monitoring
This is mandatory, to observe any asbestos fibers that may be released into the air after removal of friable asbestos. After cleaning, the percentage remaining in the air should be at most, 0.01 fibers per milliliter. A comprehensive report is prepared for the same and kept for referral later.
5. Other Safety Precautions
Personal and general protective equipment must be in place and in excellent working conditions. A backup of each item, where possible, should be on standby in case of any failures. A report of the incident of failure must be done and submitted within 24 hours to authorities like Work Safe Australia. Enclose the work area in thick and brand new plastic sheeting.
6. Handling Of Waste
Waste material needs to be disposed of in thick polythene bags, which must be sealed with duct tape and labelled properly as asbestos waste, complete with a legible warning. The waste containers need to be emptied immediately after the removal and kept far away from places where untrained people can come into contact with it.
7. Inspection Of Material
There could be material at the site that may need to be re used afterward, these must be professionally inspected to confirm that o asbestos dust settled on them.
The above guidelines are but a tip of the iceberg. Get a copy of the relevant statutes from the database of the Australian government if you are a removalist, independent or part of a corporation and get everything in line with the law.
Above all, safety measures have to be taken as strictly and as meticulously as possible because inhaling or swallowing asbestos fibers can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. There are several compliance codes developed by numerous corporations, and may not be in line with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, under which an offence can be prosecuted. It is important to check the relevant Ministry's database to see which codes are approved or use the statute directly as a guide.