As asbestos poses significant health risks to those who come into contact with it, it is a highly-regulated substance in Australia. From the laws surrounding it to how to safely manage it, here’s what you need to know about asbestos in Australia.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring fibre that is soft and flexible, yet resistant to heat, electricity and chemical corrosion. These properties caused it to become a popular building material post WWII, used largely in fire-resistant products such as cement and insulation.

However, it has been discovered that asbestos is highly toxic to humans. It has recently been linked to a variety of illnesses, such as cancer and lung disease, which may result in death.

As a result, people who are exposed asbestos in highly-concentrated doses over a prolonged period of time are at high risk of contracting a deadly disease. Those working in the following industries are more at risk to asbestos exposure and poisoning:

  • Mining
  • Asbestos Product Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Firefighting
  • Heavy Industry
  • Electricity Generation
  • Shipbuilding
  • Military Service

What are the laws surrounding asbestos in Australia?

A total ban on asbestos in Australia came into effect on 31 December 2003. This ban makes it illegal to make or use asbestos or products containing it, as well as importing any asbestos or products containing asbestos from another country.

Exposure to pre-existing asbestos that may be found in buildings, homes and ships is also regulated by Safe Work Australia. By law, workers must not handle asbestos unless they have been trained to do so and hold a current licence for either removing or assessing asbestos.

Companies that deal with asbestos should also have an asbestos management plan.

What should you do to minimise danger surrounding asbestos?

When it comes to dealing with asbestos in Australia, it is necessary to have an asbestos management plan in place, as well as the appropriate training and protection. A health practitioner should also manage the health of all employees that are working with asbestos, before and after their exposure.

All workers dealing with asbestos in Australia must also have the appropriate personal protection, including a protective suits, gloves, respiratory masks and covered footwear.

If you’re looking for the correct asbestos safety gear for your employees, contact NECA Trade Services. Our friendly team can talk you through what your business needs to do to safely manage the WHS risks that asbestos poses.