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Asbestos-containing materials were quite common in the past and used in commercial and residential settings. As such, the risks of asbestos exposure still exist even today. Upon identifying the presence of asbestos, you may start pondering the question of who can remove asbestos.
Read on to know if you can remove asbestos yourself. You can also learn about removing friable and non-friable asbestos, compliance codes, health and safety laws, and asbestos safety requirements. This post also considers what to expect from licensed asbestos removalists, sources of further information, and choosing asbestos removalists.
Can You Remove Asbestos Yourself?
Asbestos removal can always pose health risks. That is why you should ideally invite licensed removalists for asbestos removal. This holds true even for removing that non-friable asbestos you are legally allowed to remove yourself.
Removal of no more than 10m2 of non-friable asbestos
Homeowners and tradespersons can remove below 10m2 of non-friable asbestos. An example is the removal of a single non-friable asbestos cement sheet that is of small size and in good condition.
Removal of greater than 10m2 of non-friable asbestos
You have to compulsorily invite licensed asbestos removalists to remove greater than 10m2 of non-friable asbestos.
Removal of friable asbestos
An asbestos removalist with a Class A Licence is necessary to remove any amount of friable asbestos. This means that you are not permitted to remove friable asbestos yourself. This is because friable asbestos can release harmful asbestos fibres into the air more easily.
Asbestos safety requirements for friable asbestos removal
The asbestos removalist must also take special care to seal off the work area. Likewise, proper air monitoring must be used to ensure the use of the necessary removal methods. Licensed removalists and licensed asbestos assessors are expected to issue clearance certificates after friable asbestos removal.
Who Can Remove Asbestos Waste?
It depends on how much asbestos waste must be removed and disposed of.
Following Compliance Codes
Homeowners and tradespersons still need to follow the general requirements for all asbestos removal outlined in the Compliance code: Managing asbestos in workplaces.
What is contained in the compliance code?
The compliance code contains other information besides the safety standards for removing asbestos in workplaces. This includes information on the following:
- Personal protective equipment
- Training requirements
- Processes for decontamination
- Packaging of asbestos waste
- Asbestos disposal
Following health and safety laws
In addition, asbestos removalists have to comply with health and safety laws. They have to send a notice of asbestos removal to SafeWork. Then, they must adhere to SafeWork's guidelines on safe asbestos removal. Furthermore, proper warning signs must be displayed, and the right tools and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must always be used for removal and disposal.
Types of Asbestos Removal Licences
There are two classes or types of asbestos removal licences:
Class B licence holders
Class B licence holders are only allowed to perform asbestos removal work that involves the following:
- Removal of non-friable asbestos.
- Removal of dust arising from asbestos contamination that, in turn, occurs from the removal of non-friable asbestos.
Class A licence holders
As a Class A licence Holder, you can perform asbestos removal work under Class A and Class B. In other words, you are permitted to remove friable and non-friable asbestos.
Ways to Remove Asbestos Safely
The best way to remove asbestos safely from your home is to invite licensed asbestos removalists. After all, asbestos can pose a human health risk if not properly removed and disposed of.
What to expect from licensed asbestos removalists
In order to do a good asbestos removal and disposal job, licensed asbestos removalists should have the following:
- They should be permit holders. That is to say that they should have waste transport permits for their vehicle and waste transport certificates for the waste.
- They should use a licensed landfill for asbestos disposal.
Using licensed landfills
If you remove asbestos yourself, you are responsible for using a licensed landfill that accepts asbestos.
Things to Consider for DIY Asbestos Removal
In the first place, you should not attempt a DIY friable asbestos removal. Workplace health and safety law considers it to be high-risk work. If you wish to remove non-friable asbestos yourself as a DIY home renovator, you need to consider the following:
- Be sure you possess enough skills, experience and the right tools to manage asbestos-containing materials. In other words, you should be trained as a competent person.
- You should know how to ultimately minimise the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.
Furthermore, read up on guidelines in the following sources:
- Safe Work Australia's publication Model Code of Practice: How to safely remove asbestos.
- Your territory or state's work health and safety regulator.
Identifying and Removing Asbestos in The Home
If you suspect you have asbestos products in your home, you can take the following precautions:
- First, engage licensed asbestos removalists or accredited assessors to identify asbestos in the home correctly.
- Do not try removing asbestos yourself in flood damage, fire damage, or natural disasters.
- You must get an approved certificate for DIY removal of over 10 square metres of non-friable bonded asbestos materials.
Who Can Remove Asbestos in the Workplace?
Only Class A licensed asbestos removalists can have friable asbestos removed in the workplace. A management personnel or workplace supervisor should arrange for the removal.
Other steps to manage workplace asbestos properly include the following:
- Engaging separately licensed asbestos assessors to perform proper air monitoring of asbestos removal.
- The air monitoring results must be distributed to health and safety representatives of workers.
- An individual conducting a business or undertaking there should also receive the results.
- Likewise, other people in the workplace should get the results.
- Training of asbestos removal workers on asbestos awareness.
- Following proper decontamination processes and procedures.
- Enforcing the use of proper Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and Personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Ensuring proper removal and disposal of asbestos waste.
- Meeting the requirements for air monitoring, clearance inspections, and clearance certificates.
- Revising asbestos registers after asbestos removal.
- Ensuring the adequate, legal, and safe disposal of all asbestos waste.
Asbestos Removal and Demolition
Specific regulatory requirements should be followed if construction or demolition work involves a structure containing asbestos. An example is building materials. Specifically, construction work guidelines in the Work Health and Safety (WHS Regulation) must be followed.
Furthermore, if there is the presence of asbestos-contaminated dust or debris, the requirements for the minor contamination of asbestos-contaminated dust or debris (ACD) need to be followed.
Obligations of Asbestos Removal Licence Holders
Here are some asbestos removal work requirements for Class A or Class B removal licence holders. These requirements are applicable for asbestos removal work on residences or workplaces:
- A 5-day notice must be given to SafeWork about the asbestos removal before the commencement of work.
- Independent licensed asbestos assessors must conduct air monitoring before and during removal.
- Proper training, tools, and personal protective clothing need to be provided to employees.
- The asbestos registers for workplaces have to be updated.
Other Sources on Asbestos-Related Issues
- Asbestos Safety And Eradication Agency
- National Asbestos Exposure Register
- Environment Protection Authority's Asbestos transport and disposal guidelines
Find Licensed Asbestos Removalists Near You
Your best answer to the question of 'who can remove asbestos?' is to locate licensed asbestos removalists or assessors near your location. Ensure they have their asbestos assessor licences if you need to remove friable asbestos.