Dealing with asbestos in your workplace
I am a:
Employer - I own my workplace and have management or control
If your workplace has any asbestos-containing material and you have management or control over that material then you have responsibilities in regard to asbestos.
Employer – I am a tenant of a building which I use as my workplace
If you rent or lease your workplace you need to:
- Obtain the asbestos register from your commercial property owner/manager
- Find and identify asbestos so far as is reasonably practicable that is under your management or control (including in plant or equipment)
- Establish your own asbestos register
- Manage risks associated with having asbestos in your workplace
- Consider the guidance on removing asbestos.
If you are a tenant of a building which you use as your workplace you have certain responsibilities in regard to asbestos.
Ask those with management or control (property owner/manager) to provide a copy of their asbestos register. You can then use this to develop a register for your workplace (as an employer) and add any additional items that contain asbestos - for example, specific items of plant that you own.
If you require asbestos to be removed from the building it is likely that you will need to approach the property owner/manager (depending on the details of your lease). If the asbestos is to be removed from something that you brought into the workplace you will need to arrange removal through a licensed asbestos removalist.
You need to undertake risk management processes to ensure any activity in the workplace is not likely to disturb the asbestos. If it is likely that the asbestos will be disturbed then you need to take action to prevent this from happening.
When dealing with asbestos self-employed persons must eliminate, so far as reasonably practicable, the exposure of persons at the workplace to airborne asbestos fibres arising from the work they are undertaking. If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate that exposure, you must ensure that you reduce the exposure so far as is reasonably practicable.
In general self-employed persons have similar duties to employers, for example, in relation to:
- Removal of asbestos from a workplace
- Removal of contaminated clothing
- Use of certain tools or instruments
- Disposal of asbestos waste
For further information on employer duties go to the Employer section.
For a self-employed person who is a builder or tradesperson, the Builders and Trades section has relevant information when working with asbestos in relation to domestic or commercial premises and specific to refurbishment or demolition work.
As an employer of a motor vehicle repair workshop, you may be exposing your employees to asbestos fibres from asbestos-containing components such as brake pads/shoes, gaskets and clutch plates.
Many vehicles produced before 2003 are likely to have asbestos containing components, and these parts can remain in the vehicle until replacement is required.
Prohibitions on the use of asbestos-containing products came into effect across Australia on 31 December 2003, and replacement brake pads, brake shoes and clutch plates fitted to vehicles in Victoria after this date must be asbestos free.
As an employer (including self-employed persons), if you need to work on vehicles that contain asbestos components, you must control exposure to airborne asbestos fibres by eliminating the risk so far as is reasonably practicable. If exposure to airborne asbestos fibres cannot be eliminated, you must reduce the exposure so far as is reasonable practicable.
For further information:
- This checklist to help you safely find, manage and dispose of asbestos from motor vehicle components
- Asbestos in the workplace (including plant or equipment)
Commercial property owner
If you are a commercial property owner who leases or rents, for example, a building or part of a building to a business or businesses, then you may have obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 to the extent of your management or control.
A commercial property leased or rented to businesses (i.e. employers) is regarded as a workplace under Victoria’s health and safety laws.
Visit the commercial property owners section for more information.