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Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral famous for its impact on people's lives both in the past and present. This is the case, especially for those affected by asbestos-related diseases.

You should know about the risks of asbestos exposure and understand the asbestos disposal process in Melbourne. This will help you to know what to do about asbestos in the home or workplace.

Here, you can read up on asbestos and your health, asbestos in the home, asbestos ban in Australia, and requirements for asbestos removal. The post also contains tips for removing asbestos safely and information on licensed asbestos removalists in Melbourne.

Asbestos and Your Health

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. It is highly resistant to high temperatures and water. For this reason, it was a commonly used building material in history. Examples of asbestos-containing materials include the following:

  • Fibre cement sheeting
  • Insulation piping 
  • Vinyl flooring  
  • Electrical parts 
  • Brake pads in vehicles

Tiny asbestos fibres pose a significant risk when you breathe them in. The asbestos dust particles get trapped in the lungs. Many years after exposure, severe health conditions begin to occur.

Asbestos-related diseases that can arise due to inhaling microscopic asbestos fibres include the following:

  • Lung inflammation 
  • Lung scarring 
  • Mesothelioma
  • Lung conditions
  • Lung cancer

As such, you would want to avoid asbestos exposure and dispose of asbestos safely in landfills or recycling centres. Asbestos support groups have been established in Australia. You can contact them for support for individuals with asbestos-related diseases.

Asbestos in the Home

You should know that if your home was built before 1980, there's a chance it contains asbestos products. After all, asbestos was a commonly used building material up until the 1980s. The reason for this is its heat-resistant and insulating properties.

You may not always be able to tell if a material contains asbestos through its appearance alone. As such, you should take proper care when work is being done on the following:

You should always use safety information such as risks of asbestos exposure and how to safely dispose of asbestos in the home.

History of Asbestos Ban in Australia

Australia is known to have the global record for the highest percentage of asbestos use per person up until the 1980s. The Department of Mines had to come to terms with the risk of asbestos exposure and take steps to prevent it. Ultimately, on December 31, 2003, the government altogether banned asbestos in Australia.

Today, there is increased public interest disclosure as everyone has to be more asbestos aware. Better asbestos management practices are being implemented in business and industry activities. Furthermore, studies are being conducted that improve community health and safety.

Can You Perform Asbestos Removal Without a Licence?

Victorian law allows employers or self-employed persons to perform only a limited amount of asbestos removal work without having a licence. These asbestos removal works include the following:

  • Removing non-friable asbestos-containing material where the total amount you want to remove does not exceed ten square metres.
  • The total time you perform the asbestos removal work does not exceed one hour. Note that the specified period is a cumulative total of the time all employees perform asbestos removal work within seven days.
  • Where the asbestos removal work involves the removal of asbestos-contaminated dust and does not exceed ten minutes.

Consider the following scenario as an example:

  • You're self-employed and wish to remove an asbestos cement eave.
  • Perhaps, you want to gain access to pipes.
  • The asbestos cement is a non-friable one that is in good condition.
  • It is only 1.6 square metres in total.
  • The asbestos removal will only take an hour to remove.
  • You are sure you have not performed any previous asbestos removal work within seven days.

Then, you may perform the removal. However, you must still observe the requirements described in the Compliance code: Removing asbestos in workplaces.

Requirements for DIY Removal of Asbestos

Accessing licensed landfills

DIY and licensed asbestos removalists must use a licensed landfill for asbestos disposal. In either case, the landfill should be one that accepts asbestos. You only need to search for the closest landfill that meets these criteria. Note that landfills that accept asbestos can receive domestic and commercial asbestos.

Safe removal and disposal of asbestos

Asbestos exposure poses health risks to humans. That is why you need to ensure proper and safe disposal of asbestos. Your best option for safe asbestos removal is a licensed asbestos removalist.

Requirements for Licensed Asbestos Removalists

If you're a licensed asbestos removalist, then before you can perform waste disposal, you must ensure the following:

  • Possession of a waste transport permit for your vehicle.
  • Possession of a waste transport certificate.
  • The transport and disposal of asbestos at a licensed asbestos landfill.

Role of the Environmental Protection Act

The Environmental Protection Act 1970 and the Environmental Protection (Prescribed Waste) Regulations 1998 outline workplace or household disposal regulations for asbestos waste. The aim is to ensure that asbestos is disposed of safely and effectively.

Where to Get Resources and Information on Asbestos

You can contact asbestos regulators in government agencies that regulate asbestos in the workplace, asbestos exposure, and asbestos-related issues.

Meanwhile, you can get more information on the risks of asbestos, a guide for householders, and helpful advice from the following sources:

Meanwhile, the Environmental Health Standing Committee (enHealth) produces national publications like Asbestos: A Guide for Householders and the General Public. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee endorses the publications.

Using a Licensed Asbestos Removalist

Apart from the above, you need a licensed asbestos removalist to remove all other friable and non-friable asbestos.

Asbestos removal licences

The two types of asbestos removal licences are Class A and Class B.

Class A licence

If you are a Class A licence holder, you can perform both Class B and Class A asbestos removal work. This means that you can remove the following:

  • Friable asbestos
  • Asbestos-contaminated dust (so long as it is not derived from or associated with non-friable asbestos removal).

Class B licence

Class B licence holders can only perform Class B asbestos removal work. In other words, you can perform the following:

  • Asbestos removal work involving non-friable asbestos
  • Removal of asbestos-contaminated dust derived from or associated with non-friable asbestos removal.

Tips for Removing Asbestos Safely

  • It is safest to use a licensed asbestos removalist when removing asbestos.
  • Make sure that the asbestos removalist is licensed, certified, and experienced.
  • You need to confirm if the asbestos removalist is up to code and well-trained for safe and efficient removal and disposal of asbestos.
  • Asbestos materials must only be removed after donning personal protective equipment.
  • When removing asbestos in the workplace, you must ensure proper air monitoring.
  • Avoid the use of prohibited tools on asbestos-contaminated materials. This includes brooms, high-pressure water jets, and power tools.
  • Be sure to inform your neighbours about your asbestos removal procedures so they can keep a safe distance and close their doors and windows.
  • You must also consider local government regulations and requirements for asbestos removal.
  • Disposing of asbestos waste in kerbside bins can pollute waste streams.
  • Always make sure asbestos is disposed of in approved asbestos disposal facilities.

Licensed Asbestos Removalists in Melbourne

After reviewing this piece, you should understand the asbestos disposal process better. It is always preferable to use the services of a licensed asbestos removalist for safe asbestos disposal in Melbourne. They can even help you out with emergency asbestos removal. Their safe practices in asbestos management will prioritise your health and well-being.