Asbestos risk assessment & management

One of the most important aspects of risk management for Australian businesses in Australia is managing the risk of asbestos exposure. Hardly a week goes by without a story about asbestos in the news. Often, these stories reflect a failure to manage asbestos risk adequately.

The starting point for effective asbestos risk managment is to have a thorough asbestos risk assessment conducted by an experienced and licensed asbestos consultant. Following this exercise, if asbestos is found at your premises, you'll receive a legally compliant asbestos register and management plan which will enable you to manage asbestos risk into the future. You may also need to manage risk during asbestos removal.

 

Asbestos risk assessment

An asbestos risk assessment — also known as an asbestos survey or audit — is a crucial first step in determining the risk of asbestos contamination that staff, contractors and the general public might be exposed to by visiting or working at your premises. If your premises were built before December 2003, an asbestos risk assessment is a legal obligation.

Airsafe are the most experienced asbestos consultants in NSW. Our expertise means we're called upon to conduct asbestos risk assessments for organisations large and small, across the public and private sectors.

Unfortunately, not all organisations offering asbestos risk management services have our level of expertise with asbestos: in some cases, risk assessments have had to be completely redone after undetected asbestos was subsequently discovered. Make sure it's done right the first time: get your asbestos risk assessment done by the experts at Airsafe.

asbestos risk assessment

Once we've carried out a risk assessment survey, you'll receive a comprehensive report. The report will contain:

  • An easy-to-read Executive Summary of key findings and recommendations
  • An outline of what the risk assessment consisted of and the methodology used
  • General information about asbestos
  • A legally compliant Asbestos Register for the site
  • A detailed list of recommendations
  • Photographs of areas where asbestos was found, for easy identification
  • Laboratory reports showing results of asbestos testing

Over more than 20 years, Airsafe has acquired an unmatched reputation within the asbestos industry. Our asbestos risk assessment reports are accepted as definitive by SafeWork, local governments, and other authorities.

To book an asbestos risk assessment for your organisation, call Airsafe on (02) 9555 9034.

Asbestos testing

One of the benefits of engaging Airsafe for your asbestos risk assessment is that we operate our own NATA-accredited asbestos testing laboratory. Using state-of-the-art microscopes, we examine any samples that have been taken on site and quickly determine whether they contain any asbestos.

asbestos testing laboratory

This means we can quickly determine the level of asbestos risk at your premises, without having to wait for results from third-party laboratories.

Airsafe also offers asbestos testing as a standalone service, if you just want to determine the asbestos risk of an individual substance. To have a test completed, you will first need to take a sample of the suspect material. You can find instructions on our asbestos testing page.

Asbestos risk registers and management plans

If you're in charge of a workplace constructed before December 2003, you're legally required to have an up-to-date asbestos register and management plan (unless you've had an asbestos risk assessment conducted and no asbestos has been found).

An asbestos register is essentially a snapshot of the asbestos risks at your workplace: a list of all the asbestos in the premises, where it is located, what type of asbestos it is, whether it is bonded or friable (see below), its condition, its accessibility, and any recommendations around how it should be controlled.

An asbestos management plan, on the other hand, describes how your workplace deals with asbestos: decisions that have been taken, procedures that are in place, and people with responsibility for managing asbestos risk. The asbestos management plan needs to be reviewed regularly.

asbestos register discussion

At Airsafe, asbestos registers and management plans are part of our suite of asbestos risk management services. We have developed these documents for organisations of all types and sizes. Following an asbestos risk assessment, we can create an asbestos register and management plan that is not only legally compliant, but will be a useful reference for the life of your asbestos risk management program.

For an asbestos risk register and management plan, call Airsafe on (02) 9555 9034.

Asbestos removal and its risks

Of course, if asbestos is discovered at your workplace, one of the decisions you may need to make is to have it removed and disposed of.

Asbestos removal presents its own set of risks, and unfortunately it's not always practiced to the highest professional standards. Not to put too fine a point on it, there are many cowboy operators in the asbestos removal business. If you're not careful, you could find yourself liable for a removal process that subjects your staff to an unacceptable level of asbestos exposure risk, or for illegal asbestos dumping that exposes the general public to asbestos risk.

That's why you should talk to Airsafe before having any asbestos removal work done. Although we don't remove asbestos ourselves, we know the industry inside out, and can recommend a removal contractor who will do the job safely and legally, with the required licensing and insurance, so your staff and the general public are not put at risk.

Once of the most important risk management practices during asbestos removal is air quality monitoring. Airsafe is a NATA accredited provider of air quality monitoring services. We will visit your site during asbestos removal, set up air monitoring equipment, then collect samples to take back to our laboratory for fibre counting.

In this way, you can be confident that the risk of asbestos contamination is being managed throughout the asbestos removal process: something that will not only put your mind at rest, but protect you from in the event of future legal action.

Talk to Airsafe about asbestos removal and air quality monitoring: call us on (02) 9555 9034.

Amosite, crocidolite and chrysotile asbestos risk levels

There are three main types of asbestos present in Australian buildings: amosite asbestos, crocidolite asbestos, and chrysotile asbestos. Risk levels vary between the three types, but they all potentially lead to asbestos-related diseases; there is no safe kind of asbestos. The main factor affecting the risk of asbestos exposure is whether the asbestos is loose or friable (that is, easily crumbled, and thus readily inhaled into the lungs), or "bonded" (that is, sealed up in the material it's contained in).

Bonded and friable asbestos risk levels

In addition to the different types of asbestos, there are two main forms in which asbestos can appear in products. These are friable asbestos, and non-friable or bonded asbestos.

Friable asbestos is easily crumbled, making it the most risk-laden form of asbestos to deal with, because fibres can easily be released into the atmosphere and inhaled. Because of this high level of risk, a restricted license with stringent conditions is required to remove friable asbestos. Friable asbestos is commonly found in insulation around hot water pipes, boilers and ovens. The infamous loose fill insulation pumped into ceilings by Mr Fluffy is also friable asbestos.

Non-friable or bonded asbestos refers to asbestos that is sealed within a construction material like cement. Bonded asbestos is commonly found in building materials like fibro and roof tiling. As long as the asbestos remains sealed within the material, it can't be released into the atmosphere. This means that if left undisturbed, there is a lower asbestos exposure risk from bonded asbestos than friable asbestos.

However, there are situations where bonded asbestos can become friable. This is frequently the case with weathering of roof tiles, for example. Bonded asbestos also ceases to be safe when it's deliberately disturbed: for example, renovators who drill holes in fibro or rip up asbestos floor tiles risk releasing asbestos fibres into the atmosphere.

What this means is that you can't assume that bonded asbestos is simply safe and poses no risk. Accurately determining the risk of asbestos contamination, and the best way of managing asbestos risk, is a job best done by recognised asbestos experts like Airsafe. The consequences of ignoring or downplaying asbestos risk are too serious to trifle with. If you want to make sure your asbestos risk management program uses best practices and keeps your staff, contractors and the public protected, call Airsafe on (02) 9555 9034.

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