Asbestos registers are an important document to keep up to date, because they provide information about the condition of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in a business, informing the effective management of any asbestos risks.
Knowing where asbestos is located in the building and the condition of it, allows the owner or operator to take steps to limit exposure to asbestos, as well as ensure business compliance with relevant regulations and laws.
This article will discuss how often should asbestos registers be updated to ensure the safety and compliance of your business.
What is an asbestos register?
An asbestos register is an important document for asbestos management because it records the location, condition and type of ACMs in a building. The register should include details of all ACMs, including;
- Where they are located
- What type of asbestos they contain
- The condition of the material and a description of the material
- Any asbestos removal or encapsulation works
- An assessment of the risk posed by the material
- Any further action needed to reduce the risk
What does the law say about asbestos registers?
In Australia, all buildings constructed before 31 December 2003 must have an asbestos register, per the Work Health and Safety Act.
The register is legally required to list;
- the location of any asbestos present
- the condition of the asbestos
- the management strategy for the asbestos.
The register must be reviewed and updated every five years and should be available to all people who may be exposed to asbestos, including workers, visitors, etc. All asbestos-containing materials must be identified, labeled and managed in accordance with relevant Australian laws and regulations.
To find out the state laws regarding asbestos that directly affect your business, we recommend you consult your relevant State Government Health and Safety website;
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- South Australia
- Western Australia
All employers must ensure that they are compliant with these laws and regulations in order to protect the safety of their workers.
How often should I update my asbestos registers?
It’s often assumed that you have to regularly review and update your asbestos registers annually in order to keep them up to date. However, if your business has a detailed and systemic approach to asbestos management and the relevant documentation, this is actually not the case.
According to the law, (Chapter 8, Section 426 – Review of asbestos register), a person with management or control of a workplace where an asbestos register is kept must ensure that the register is reviewed and, as necessary, revised under the following conditions;
- The asbestos management plan is reviewed under clause 430
- Further asbestos or ACM is identified at the workplace
- Asbestos is removed from, or disturbed, sealed or enclosed at, the workplace
What factors influence the frequency that I should update my asbestos registers?
There are certain factors that inform how frequently you need to update your asbestos registers. They don’t carry a legal precedent (i.e. you are not legally required to update your asbestos registers based on these specific factors), however they are heavily advised because they are most likely to ensure the safety and compliance of your business.
Risk Assessment Results
The defining factor for how often you should update your asbestos registers is the results of a risk assessment conducted by a suitably qualified asbestos assessor (either someone within your organisation or a third party hired externally).
When a qualified individual assesses your building for asbestos risks, what they determine will inform how often you should update your asbestos registers, for example;
- If your building has a low asbestos risk, it is recommended that you update your register at least every five years
- If your building has a medium risk, then it is recommended that you update your register at least every three years
- If your building is high risk, then it is recommended that you update your register at least every 12 months
It is also important to regularly update your asbestos registers based on the status of your building. For example, buildings that are undergoing significant changes or renovations should increase the frequency with which they update their registers, as there is a higher risk of asbestos exposure.
In addition, it is important to ensure that any asbestos related works that are carried out are accurately documented in the register. This will help ensure that any asbestos related risks are identified and managed properly.
Type of Asbestos
The frequency of updates should also depend on the type and condition of the asbestos that is suspected to exist in your building. If the asbestos in your building is more friable, then it is in your business’ best interest to update your registers more frequently, as friable asbestos poses a higher asbestos exposure risk than non friable asbestos.
It is also important to update the register whenever new ACMs are identified or changes to existing materials are made. In addition, any asbestos removal should be documented in the register, and it should be updated whenever the condition of the asbestos changes.
Are there consequences for not updating my asbestos registers?
There are serious consequences for not updating your asbestos registers in Australia; from a safety, legal and reputational standpoint.
The Work Health and Safety Act requires employers and self-employed persons to keep an up-to-date asbestos register, including the location and type of asbestos-containing material on their premises.
If this is not done;
- Employers can be prosecuted and face significant penalties. Penalties include fines of up to $126,000 for an individual and $630,000 for a corporation, or imprisonment of up to five years
- Asbestos is a hazardous material and any failure to adequately manage its risks can result in potential harm to workers and the public
- Businesses that fail to adequately manage their asbestos will face a negative reputation for their negligence, affecting their capacity to be competitive in their industry
How can Octfolio software help with my asbestos registers?
Octfolio is a software solution that helps you organise all of your ACM assets, and store their details in easy to access and update asbestos registers. The information is stored securely, but it is also accessible for all important stakeholders. This guarantees both the safety of your building’s occupants as well as the regulatory compliance of your business.
Octfolio, gives you every function required to successfully handle all aspects of ACM management, such as;