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There can be a high risk of asbestos exposure in specific workplaces. Since asbestos exposure has been associated with various respiratory illnesses and other diseases, you should be aware of these risks. You should also know what asbestos registers and management plans are and what they contain.

This post is a detailed guide explaining the contents of asbestos registers and asbestos management plans. It discusses codes of practice, identifying asbestos in the workplace, the national asbestos exposure register, and services from asbestos removalists.

Asbestos Registers

An asbestos register is a document that specifies potential and identified asbestos and asbestos-containing materials (ACM) in a workplace. The expectation is that a person with management or workplace control sets up an asbestos register and maintains its use in the workplace.

An asbestos register is especially required for a workplace if the following conditions exist:

  • The workplace building was constructed before 31 December 2003.
  • Asbestos has been identified in the workplace location.
  • There is the potential for asbestos to be present in the workplace from time to time.

The asbestos register and asbestos management plan greatly help manage asbestos and the risk of exposure in workplaces.

Contents of asbestos registers

Your asbestos register should have the following records:

  • Identified locations of asbestos.
  • Potential or assumed presence of asbestos.
  • Date of asbestos identification.
  • Type of asbestos including its location and condition.
  • Asbestos-containing kind of material (friable or non-friable).
  • The name of a competent person.

The asbestos register must record any asbestos or ACM identified at the workplace or likely to be present occasionally.

Obligations regarding asbestos registers

The manager or controller of the workplace has roles to play regarding asbestos registers.

  • Asbestos registers for workplaces must have updated information.
  • The information should clearly state whether no asbestos has been identified.
  • The register must be handed over to the business or employer upon a change of management or controller of the workplace.
  • Labels should be placed on asbestos where feasible. One should know if an item contains asbestos and identify its location.
  • The locations of asbestos in the workplace can be shown through drawings or photographs.

Importance of asbestos registers

Asbestos fibres can be inhaled and, therefore, can pose asbestos health risks. This is because asbestos is highly hazardous. Asbestos fibres can be released and become airborne during home renovation projects. Unsurprisingly, Australia banned the importation, storage, supply, sale, and use of asbestos in December 2003.

People performing building work on properties built earlier than 2004 must confirm that there are no asbestos products, asbestos-containing materials, or other hazardous substances in the structure.

An asbestos register helps to reduce risks of exposure to asbestos-containing materials by:

  • Identifying asbestos-containing materials.
  • Assessing health risks posed by each instance of identified asbestos.
  • Recommending risk control measures.

After potential asbestos-containing materials are identified, they are collected for asbestos testing. In these situations, a workplace asbestos register can help improve asbestos safety management.

Asbestos Management Plans

If workplace asbestos has been identified, you must have a written plan for management or control. This plan is referred to as an asbestos management plan.

Components of asbestos management plans

Your asbestos management plan has to include the following:

  • Identified locations of asbestos. This should consist of any naturally occurring asbestos.
  • A record of decisions on workplace management plans and the reasons for them.
  • An asbestos management plan can include safe work procedures and specified control measures.
  • Responsibilities and procedures in cases of asbestos incidents and emergencies.
  • A detailed outline of how asbestos risks will be controlled, including considerations for appropriate control measures.
  • Your asbestos management plan should include a risk of exposure management timetable.
  • It should also include procedures for the plan's review and intended dates.
  • All necessary workplace air monitoring procedures should be included.

Review and training on asbestos management plans

You should know that you should have a Health and Safety Representative (HSR) review your asbestos management plan at least every five years. However, the HSR can request a review before that time. A review is also necessary when removing asbestos or when there is asbestos disturbance, sealing, or enclosure.

Furthermore, you need to review the plan to see if it is no more adequate or when you implement changes in control measures. Meanwhile, you should ensure the plan is accessible to workers who wish to carry out or have carried out work at the workplace.

You are also responsible for training employees who carry out work involving asbestos.

Codes of Practice

The above codes of practice are meant to help reduce the risks of exposure to asbestos fibres. The regulations also require PCBUs to set up an asbestos register of identified or suspected asbestos-containing materials (ACM). The asbestos register should be reviewed before performing any demolition or refurbishment work.

State regulations and codes of practice require that a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) must see to it that an asbestos or hazardous materials survey risk assessment is done to identify and manage the risk of possible exposure to any ACM.

Identifying Asbestos in the Workplace

Identification of asbestos or asbestos-containing materials (ACM) in the workplace has to be done by a competent person. This qualified person has the relevant training, qualification, skills, and experience to perform this task.

The following competent persons can help confirm the presence of asbestos and make the process of identifying asbestos or ACM at the workplace conclusive:

  • Licensed asbestos assessors.
  • Experienced occupational hygienists.
  • Asbestos removal supervisors.

However, you do not need a competent person to identify naturally occurring asbestos-like those found during quarrying or mining.

Where Can Asbestos Samples be Analysed?

One can get samples of suspected asbestos-containing material analysed at a NATA-accredited laboratory.

After testing asbestos samples, the results can be recorded in asbestos registers. These registers are prepared per the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission Code of Practice for the Management and Control of Asbestos in Workplaces [NOHSC: 2018 (2005)].

Asbestos Removal Requirements

If you engage a licensed asbestos removalist to perform asbestos removal work at your workplace, you must provide access to the asbestos register.

Likewise, asbestos air monitoring is a regulatory requirement for certain workplace activities that involve asbestos-containing materials.

What are Asbestos Surveys?

An asbestos survey precedes an asbestos register and is a report that identifies and assesses risks of confirmed or assumed asbestos. This survey also contains recommendations and proposed control measures. After that, an asbestos register is created for the site. Asbestos surveys and registers are essential documents for managing asbestos in workplaces.

Role of the National Asbestos Exposure Register

The National Asbestos Exposure Register (NAER), as set up by the Australian Government, is a record of community members who may have had asbestos exposure at one time or another. The statistics are reported annually.

Services from Asbestos Removalists

You can expect the following asbestos and hazardous materials services from removalist companies:

  • Asbestos compliance risk assessments.
  • Management of asbestos in soils.
  • Due diligence assessments.
  • Asbestos audits.
  • Facilitating the processing of asbestos clearance certificate.
  • Asbestos inspections and asbestos removal.
  • Asbestos air monitoring for optimal indoor air quality.
  • Asbestos clearance inspections and reporting.
  • Investigation of contaminated land and identification of hazardous materials.
  • Testing for asbestos.
  • Development of a risk management plan.
  • Performing asbestos checks and project management.

An Asbestos Removal Company Can Help

This post has discussed asbestos registers and asbestos management plans. Undoubtedly, the risks of asbestos exposure should be taken seriously for better environmental management and property risk assessments.

Your next step after suspecting the presence of asbestos is to go for asbestos emergency sampling and testing. A good asbestos removal company can take the burden off you and handle these tasks.