As noted by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, over 4,000 Australian deaths per year are caused by exposure to asbestos. These naturally occurring silicate minerals can cause pleural disease, asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Up until being banned in 2003, Australia had one of the highest rates of asbestos usage. As a result, material containing asbestos can still be found inside many older premises and installations. Since this danger still lurks and impacts thousands of lives every year, every organisation needs an asbestos management plan.


Sadly, the death toll is even more bleak for those working in the electrotechnology industry. In that field, there are between 90 and 150 deaths per year from asbestos-related disease. That works out to electricians being 10-times more likely to die from asbestos exposure than the normal person. Due to this, it’s important that all electrical contractors have an asbestos management plan.


However, things get a bit tricky for technical and specialist contractors. Electrical workersmove from one workplace to another often (sometimes more than once a day) and regularly work alone or in a small team. Because of this, there’s no singular workplace to focus on making safe through quality control, supervision, inspection and auditing. This adds additional complexity to the challenge of getting things right, but it can be done if the worker has the appropriate knowledge of how to deal with asbestos.


The National Electrical and Communications Association is here to help, and a good asbestos management plan will start by making all workers aware of the dangers of asbestos and being able to identify it. Our asbestos safety course will make sure that every person in your organisation can identify the deadly material and know to inform decision makers about any issue. The trained decision makers will know how to work with asbestos in a minor capacity and will decide on the next course of action, be it walking away, testing for asbestos, presuming asbestos, continuing the job with trained personnel or contracting the work out to a licencedremovalist. Beyond going over removal, storage and disposal of asbestos, the course will also teach workers how to select and maintain personal protective equipment, how to survey their health and what they should do when dealing with an accidental or unplanned asbestos disturbance.


It’s also important to note that both state and territory Work Health and Safety authorities have different requirements about training, handling and the disposal of asbestos. For example, if you live near a state border, it might be illegal to drive across state lines with asbestos material in your car. Having an asbestos management plan will make sure all electrical contractors and their employees can comply with these laws. It also helps prevent exposure to airborne asbestos fibres while keeping asbestos containing materials inside the workplace.