Asbestos Checks

February 2, 2023

Sebastian Tiller

Asbestos checks are an integral part of any asbestos management plan. In order for asbestos to be effectively managed for the sake of a safe and compliant workplace, the workplace must first be checked with an asbestos inspection for potential asbestos containing materials (ACMs).

There are different degrees of necessity when it comes to business’ asbestos checks or inspections, depending on the year in which the commercial building was constructed;

  • If the building was constructed before 1990, you have to conduct an asbestos check in order to be compliant with work health and safety laws, per the current model of the Model Work Health and Safety Act (dated 14 April 2022).

  • If the building was constructed after 1990, but before 2003, asbestos checks are not a legal requirement. However, they are strongly recommended as 2003 was the year in which the Australian Government imposed a full ban of the use of asbestos in construction.

  • If the building was constructed after 2003, there is no legal requirement for an asbestos check, and the likelihood of asbestos being present is low. However, it is still recommended that you conduct an asbestos check if you suspect that asbestos may be present in your workplace building.

What are asbestos checks?

Asbestos checks are a process conducted on a business site in order to identify both locations and products that are likely to contain asbestos. This process is important, as its results inform a large part of a workplace’s asbestos management plan.

In the aftermath of an asbestos check, the results are compiled into an asbestos register, which is then used as a reference once actions need to be taken in order to address ACMs (e.g. removal, labelling, blocking, etc.)

What are the two types of asbestos checks?

There are two kinds of asbestos checks; both with their own advantages and disadvantages. When they are both used in an asbestos management plan, they help create a complete picture as to where asbestos is likely to be in a commercial building.

Visual inspections

These involve a qualified individual examining the areas in a commercial building where ACMs are likely to be present, including;

  • The building’s exterior
    • Exterior wall
    • Electricity metre and fuse box
    • Moulded ventilation
    • Window and door mouldings, window rope and putty
    • Telecommunications pit
    • Vehicle brake linings
    • Wall cladding
  • Plant/Boiler Room
    • Fire door (with an asbestos core)
    • Flues
    • Gaskets
    • Lagging around pipes
    • Plant and other machinery containing asbestos gaskets and/or seals
    • Switchboard
  • Kitchen
    • Walls
    • Ceilings
    • Splashbacks
    • Backing of vinyl floor tiles
    • Hot water insulation set into walls
    • Underlay sheeting for ceramic tiles
    • Cement sheet ceilings
  • Roof
    • Roof surface
    • Downpipes
    • Eaves
    • Flue exhausts
    • Guttering
    • Lining under eaves
    • Loose roof insulation
    • Rainwater heads
    • Ridge tiles
    • Roof sheeting
    • Roof ventilators
  • Bathroom
    • Walls
    • Toilet
    • Ceiling
    • Floors
    • Backing to wall tiles
    • Hot water insulation set into walls
    • Sheet walls
    • Shower lining

While a visual inspection is not enough to rule out the presence of asbestos, it is a solid method of identifying products that could contain asbestos and should therefore be examined more thoroughly per the asbestos management plan.

Sampling and testing

Once potential ACMs have been identified, the next step is to have samples taken from them by qualified asbestos removalists. Those samples should then be sent to a laboratory approved by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) in Australia or International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) in New Zealand for testing services.

These facilities will be able to use polarised light microscopy testing and dispersion staining testing in order to confirm the presence of asbestos. These tests cannot be conducted anywhere else. The results are then recorded into the register and used as a reference as you continue to implement your asbestos management plan.

Where can I go for more information on asbestos regulations?

Asbestos regulations vary depending on your state. It is a good idea to be familiar with your state’s asbestos laws before you conduct asbestos management to ensure that you are compliant in your actions.

If you are in the process of planning asbestos checks, or even forming the preliminary stages of your asbestos management plan, you can find important information on your state government’s asbestos information websites;

How can Octfolio help me with asbestos checks in my business?

Octfolio stores all of your information on ACMs in a secure but also easy to access location. It is also easy to update, meaning you can stay on top of all ACM information as you conduct your asbestos checks. 

Octfolio has comprehensive asbestos registers that are easy to both create and update as well as the functionality to map asbestos containing materials across multiple building locations, making it an invaluable asset for any business looking to conduct asbestos checks.

In addition, Octfolio also contains all the other features you need to complete your asbestos management plan;

Octfolio gives you full control over the asbestos management of your business.

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Sebastian Tiller

Seb has a long history of delivering elegant solutions to complex business problems that conform to the most exacting compliance standards. He prides himself on his ability to connect with customers and humanise software solutions to be understandable and useful to all parties. He’s also enjoys playing story-based single player games and spending time with his young family, building LEGO, attending recitals, and experiencing new restaurants with his wife.

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