Asbestos Code of Practice

November 22, 2022

Sebastian Tiller

Safe Work Australia has compiled an asbestos code of practice that you can use to inform all aspects of asbestos containing material (ACM) management in your building. This is to ensure both the safety of your employees and the compliance of your workplace with section 274 of the Work Health and Safety Act

This code of practice is intended for a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) that is responsible for enacting ACM management within a workplace. 

Model Code of Practice: How to safely remove asbestos

This code of practice provides an in-depth guide on how to effectively manage ACMs and provide a safe and compliant workplace. Topics covered include;

  • The responsibilities and duties surrounding the management of ACMs
  • Methods used to identify ACMs
  • How to safely remove ACMs
  • Enclosing the environment to make it safe for others while ACMs are being managed, etc.

Duties and responsibilities

Different people have different responsibilities when it comes to this code;

  • The person(s) conducting a business or undertaking (PBCU)s have the primary duty of care for eliminating (or minimising) ACM risks in their workplace
  • Officers (such as company directors) have a responsibility to ensure that the business or undertaking is compliant with Government regulations concerning ACMs
  • Workers have a responsibility to take reasonable care for their own health, as well as the health of others, by following reasonable health and safety policies that are put in place to mitigate the risk of ACMs in the workplace

PCBUs have the primary duty of care, and therefore have a wide range of duties, including;

  • Providing information, training and instructions to everyone in the workplace
  • Ensuring that any commissioned ACM removalists carry the correct licence for the work being undertaken
  • Consulting a registered medical professional to monitor the health of employees that are at risk of exposure
  • Creating the ACM management plan and ensuring its use

Asbestos removalists also have their own responsibilities, including;

  • Being present whenever the work they are commissioned for is carried out
  • Providing adequate training to their own workers
  • Informing all relevant stakeholders about the removal that is to take place
  • Obtaining the workplace’s ACM register
  • Preparing an ACM removal control plan
  • Notifying the regulator about the work before it starts
  • Displaying signs and installing barricades in the work area
  • Limiting access to the work area
  • Ensuring appropriate decontamination facilities are in place
  • Ensuring waste containment and disposal procedures are in place

Controls applicable to all types of asbestos removal

The following points are applicable to any ACM removal work, regardless of whether it requires a licence or not;

  • The PCBU must investigate the environment surrounding the ACM and identify any potential hazards for removalists; including confined spaces, falls, heat, exposed electrical wires, etc. and mitigate them however possible
  • Signs and barricades must be used to clearly indicate the area where removal work is being performed and allow workers to safely navigate the workspace without risking ACM exposure
  • The correct removal method must be used to minimise the risk of contamination during removal;
    • Wet spray method for suppressing ACM fibres
    • Saturation and water injection for removing friable ACMs
    • Dry method for when the introduction of water poses a potential environmental threat (e.g. if there are live electrical conductors in the area, etc.)
  • Tools must be correctly maintained and in good working order for removal
  • Everyone working on the removal must be provided with the correct PPE
  • There must be personal decontamination areas, as well as facilities for laundering clothing, waste containment and disposal

What are some examples of asbestos products in the workplace?

As well as knowing how to remove asbestos safely, it is also important to know where ACMs in the workplace tend to be.

There are many different kinds of asbestos products that can be found in a workplace, such as;

  • Cement products used in various areas including roofing, shingles, exterior cladding on industrial, public and some residential premises, corrugated/profile sheets as well as flat sheets that have been used for exterior flexible building boards
  • Floor tile products such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) tiles often contain a few percent (usually 5-7%) of very fine chrysotile asbestos 
  • Certain bitumen products such as roofing felts and damp proof courses generally contain non friable asbestos. Some mastics used to stick the bitumen products commonly had asbestos added to them for flexibility. Other sealants also had asbestos added to improve the performance of the product.
  • False ceiling tiles or suspended ceilings sometimes need to be removed so maintenance work can be performed. If asbestos has been used on structural materials above a false ceiling there could be contamination on the upper surface of the tiles
  • Gaskets reinforced with asbestos were once used extensively in plant and equipment exposed to high temperatures and/or pressures. These gaskets were typically used between the flanges of pipes. Additionally, asbestos rope was often used for lagging pipes and valves and for sealing hatches
  • It was widely used to insulate pipes, boilers and heat exchangers
  • Some fire doors contained loose insulation sandwiched between the wooden or metal facings to give them the appropriate fire rating. Sometimes it was also packed around electrical cables, sometimes using chicken wire to contain it
  • Certain millboards are typically 100 per cent asbestos and very friable

Can Octfolio help me implement this code of practice in my workplace?

Octfolio is a software solution that helps you organise all of your ACM assets, so you can ensure that your ACM management plan adequately addresses all of them. All of the information you store is then easily accessible for your employees, as well as any other important stakeholders.

Octfolio, gives you every function required to successfully handle all aspects of ACM management, such as;

See Octfolio in action

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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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