You may have read recent news reports about the risks of asbestos in electrical meter boxes.
The issue affects meter boards that were installed before 1983, in as many as 2 million homes. These boards contain high concentrations of chrysotile (white) asbestos. When the meter board is drilled into, as often happens during electrical work, the asbestos becomes friable (crumbly), releasing asbestos fibres which can potentially be breathed in by unwary householders or electrical workers.
The issue hit the news when NSW electricity company Endeavour Energy issued a safety alert advising its workers to wear face masks when working on meter boards. This prompted the Electrical Trades Union to go one step further, advising its members not to work at all on electrical meter boards in pre-1983 houses unless they are certified free of asbestos.
I suspect asbestos in my meter box: What should I do?
If your home or office was built before 1983, there's a high probability that your electricity meter board contains asbestos. If you've had electrical work done, there's also a strong likelihood that the board was drilled without proper precautions, so there may be loose asbestos dust that could be inhaled.
We therefore recommend being very careful around your electricity meter. If you need any electrical work done, it should be done under asbestos removal conditions.
Airsafe can recommend a reliable asbestos removal contractor in Sydney or NSW. We also offer NATA-accredited asbestos sample testing (but we can't tell you over the phone whether your meter box contains asbestos.)