If you own a business, you have both a moral and legal responsibility to know how to manage and control asbestos in the workplace. Not only is this so you create a safe working environment for your employees, but it ensures the compliance of your business with section 274 of the Work Health and Safety Act.
What are the various parts of managing and controlling asbestos?
The process of managing and controlling asbestos in the workplace involves many different steps that all need to be taken, as they all contribute to a safe working environment free from asbestos contamination. For more information, you can look at this handbook written by Safe Work Australia on how to manage and control asbestos in the workplace.
Identifying asbestos containing materials
The first step towards managing and controlling asbestos is to find out where it is. Of course, because asbestos is too small to see with the naked eye, it is important to treat a material that you suspect contains asbestos as though it contains asbestos.
Enclosing the area to ensure safe passage
If an asbestos containing material (ACM) can’t be moved without causing widespread asbestos contamination, it is important that you instead seal the area off so that the ACM can’t be accidentally accessed and disrupted by employees in their day to day job.
Ensuring removalists are properly equipment for the job
If you are hiring asbestos removalists, it is up to you to vet their qualifications and ensure that they are correctly certified for the job. Additionally, you have to make sure that the environment is prepared for the removalists’ tools and equipment – including easy to access powerpoints, and an area where removalists can safely decontaminate their clothing and tools.
Isolating the space and keeping employees informed
It’s not enough to just enclose the area where an ACM is located. You must also use signage and wayfinding to keep employees (as well as visitors) informed as to the nature of the area (i.e. where the ACM is located and how to move around it) so that they don’t risk accidentally disrupting the space and causing contamination.
Cleaning the area to eliminate contaminants
Sanitise enclosed spaces with ACMs using wet methods such as a concentrated spray of water (unless contact with water creates a health hazard, such as an area with electrical conductors) in order to eliminate the possibility of asbestos fibers being released into the environment.
Safely disposing of asbestos containing materials
You need to ensure that ACMs are both removed correctly, using non disruptive methods, and you also need to make sure that asbestos is disposed of at a licensed facility, following said facility’s wrapping, labeling and transport protocols.
Logging and updating asbestos registers
In order to keep everybody informed, you have to log all relevant ACM information in your asbestos registers and then update them accordingly. This information includes;
- record any ACM that has been identified or is assumed to be present at the workplace
- record the date when the ACM was identified
- record the location, type and condition of the ACM
- be maintained to ensure up-to-date information
- state if no ACMs have been identified
Training staff on proper conduct and providing personal protective equipment (PPE)
Employees need to be given the skills and knowledge to conduct themselves safely in a building environment with potential asbestos containing materials, as well as the necessary PPE to eliminate their chance of exposure.
How can Octfolio help me manage and control asbestos in my workplace?
Managing and controlling asbestos has so many steps, which is why Octfolio contains every function that you need in order to make the process as easy as possible, including;
- Asset management
- Report management
- Compliance management
- Document management
- Maintenance management
- Digital asbestos register
- Field data collection
- Automated reporting
- Workflow automation
- Risk calculator
- Asbestos mapping software