When it comes to building management, understanding who bears responsibility for asbestos is a crucial step for safeguarding occupants and ensuring legal compliance. That’s because asbestos, once widely used in construction, poses serious health risks that demand careful consideration and management. In this article, we’ll discuss who is responsible for
Who is responsible for asbestos in a commercial property?
In Australia, legal responsibility for asbestos management in commercial properties rests primarily with the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), as they own the building where said business is taking place.
This means that their responsibilities generally compel them to do the following:
- Create an asbestos management plan
- Create and maintain asbestos registers
- Conduct asbestos inspections
- Oversee the safe removal and disposal of ACMs
- Facilitate accurate notifications and record keeping
- Provide training and awareness for the building's occupants
What are the legal frameworks for asbestos management in Australia?
The legal frameworks in Australia for asbestos property management in Australia are split into two key sections:
The WHS Act, along with its accompanying regulations, outlines the comprehensive legal guidelines governing asbestos management in commercial properties. These encompass the responsibilities imposed on PCBUs, mandating them to identify and address asbestos-related risks. The requirements extend to conducting thorough asbestos assessments and implementing effective control measures, all aimed at ensuring the health and safety of both workers and other individuals present in the workplace.
Certain states and territories within Australia introduce additional regulations and guidelines to complement the national framework. It is advisable for PCBUs to acquaint themselves with the particular requirements relevant to their specific location, as these standards can differ across regions.
You can find out more about the asbestos regulations specific to your state from your State Government website:
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- South Australia
- Western Australia
How can I oversee responsible asbestos management in my commercial property?
By implementing these measures, you can actively oversee responsible asbestos management in your commercial property, promoting a safe and legally compliant environment for all occupants:
- Educate Yourself: Stay informed about asbestos regulations, guidelines, and best practices. Understand the legal obligations imposed by relevant authorities to ensure compliance.
- Asbestos Management Plan: Develop and implement a robust asbestos management plan. This plan should include strategies for identification, assessment, and control of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) within the property.
- Regular Inspections: Conduct regular asbestos inspections to identify any new ACMs or changes in the condition of existing ones. Engage qualified professionals to perform thorough assessments and keep detailed records of findings.
- Asbestos Registers: Maintain accurate and up-to-date asbestos registers. These registers should document the location, condition, and risk assessment of all ACMs present in the commercial property.
- Engage Licensed Professionals: When asbestos removal or abatement is necessary, hire licensed and accredited professionals. Ensure they follow proper procedures to minimise the risk of exposure during removal and disposal activities.
- Employee Training: Provide training for employees and relevant staff on asbestos awareness and safety protocols. This empowers them to recognize potential risks and follow appropriate procedures to minimise asbestos exposure.
- Notification and Record Keeping: Comply with regulatory requirements for notifications related to asbestos activities. Maintain meticulous records of inspections, assessments, removal activities, and any communication with regulatory bodies.
- Contractor Oversight: If contractors are involved in maintenance or renovation projects, ensure they are aware of and adhere to asbestos management protocols. Include asbestos-related clauses in contracts to hold contractors accountable.
- Emergency Response Planning: Develop an emergency response plan that specifically addresses potential asbestos incidents. This includes procedures for addressing unexpected discoveries of ACMs or accidental damage during maintenance or construction activities.
- Stay Updated: Regularly review and update your asbestos management plan in response to changes in regulations, industry standards, or the condition of the property. Staying proactive ensures ongoing compliance.
- Community Communication: Foster open communication with tenants, employees, and the local community. Keep them informed about asbestos management efforts, safety measures, and any necessary precautions.
- Seek Professional Guidance: If in doubt or facing complex asbestos management challenges, seek advice from professionals specialising in asbestos consulting, legal compliance, and remediation.