Before doing any work that may involve asbestos-containing materials or products it is essential that you first establish what contains asbestos. You cannot tell by a visual inspection only, samples must be taken and then tested in an authorised licenced testing facility. If your house or property was built or renovated prior to 1990, you should have it assessed and tested for asbestos by a licensed asbestos assessor.
Prior to commencing any work or maintenance on your property please read all the Bernie Banton Foundation’s Asbestos Awareness Information Pages.
The HIA, MBA, unions, some TAFE colleges and other bodies run short (generally half to one day) asbestos awareness training courses. Asbestos awareness training will not necessarily qualify you to handle asbestos, but should make you more aware of the danger asbestos presents, and how to identify where it may be in your home or workplace.
It would also help you to be able to decide whether you should have your home or workplace assessed for asbestos by a licensed assessor, and if there is a need to engage a licensed removalist.
Thus hopefully lessening the risk of yourself and others being exposed to asbestos fibres when work is being carried out, or after it is finished.
The Bernie Banton Foundation recommends only fully trained, licensed asbestos assessment and/or removal companies be engaged to test for, remove, handle and/or dispose of asbestos containing materials (ACMs).
Breathing in asbestos dust can be deadly and may kill you!
There is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres/dust!
When bonded asbestos containing material – also known as non-friable asbestos, such as asbestos cement flat sheet; and asbestos cement corrugated roofing, cladding and fencing starts to deteriorate, is damaged, sawn, scored, drilled, sanded or interfered with, asbestos fibre/dust is released, it becomes dangerous and may become friable asbestos.
Friable asbestos, that is, loose bound asbestos such as gaskets in older oven or wood heater doors; insulation in homes; older style ovens; stoves; heaters; water boilers etc. is considered to be extremely dangerous, and may only legally be removed by a Class A licensed asbestos removalist.
If you are not fully trained, have the right equipment and ‘know how’, you will be dicing with death, putting yourself and all those around you at risk of contracting mesothelioma, a terminal cancer that has no known cure. In many cases you will not be covered by your home, vehicle or public liability insurance. If you are not a competent, qualified and insured licensed professional – you may also be breaking the law!
Be warned: Even after a property has been fully assessed and all suspect material tested, and any known asbestos or asbestos known materials or products have been removed by a licensed professional, all due care should still be taken as it is not always possible to find every source of asbestos! You should be particularly careful when working around current or ‘old’ wet areas where ACMs may be hidden behind false walls and ceilings; wall tiles and cladding, and under all descriptions of flooring.
Before organising removal of any identified asbestos in your home or work place, you should check whether there are any legal or other requirements that are applicable to the work needing to be done. You may also need the development consent of your local council.
If you are considering having asbestos removed and are not sure what regulations will affect you, we would advise you to refer to your local council and Workplace Health & Safety Authority.
Note: The Bernie Banton Foundation is not accredited to provide advice. The information provided is for assistance only.