Print Email

Glossary of terms

The information in this glossary provides an explanation of some key terms associated with asbestos, that are used on this website. Terms marked with * are defined terms under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) or Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations).

Asbestos paraoccupational air monitoring

The OHS Regulations defines this as…

A procedure by which air is sampled to estimate the airborne asbestos fibre concentration in the occupational environment, taken at fixed locations, usually between 1 and 2 metres above floor level, in accordance with:

  • the Membrane Filter Method, or
  • a method determined by WorkSafe under regulation 6 of the OHS Regulations.

Further guidance

Air monitoring must be arranged for the duration of a Class A asbestos removal job. It is also required at the completion of Class A removal work, to verify the airborne asbestos fibre level is less than 0.01f/ml. This information is required in the clearance certificate.

Air monitoring may not be required for Class A asbestos removal jobs that:

  • take place in a glove bag, or
  • are located outdoors if there is no risk to others
Asbestos

The OHS Regulations defines this as…

The asbestiform varieties of mineral silicates belonging to the serpentine or amphibole groups of rock-forming minerals, including:

  1.  actinolite asbestos
  2.  anthophyllite asbestos
  3.  chrysotile ("white asbestos")
  4.   crocidolite ("blue asbestos")
  5.   grunerite asbestos (or amosite) ("brown asbestos")
  6.   tremolite asbestos, or
 
any material or object, whether natural or manufactured, that contains one or more of the mineral silicates referred to above.


Asbestos-contaminated soil

Asbestos-containing material (ACM) may be found buried in soil on any property, including businesses and domestic premises. For example, it may be present because asbestos was not disposed of properly following the demolition of a building or asbestos-contaminated soil was used as a top soil or fill material.

The supply, storage, transport, sale, use, or re-use of asbestos-contaminated soil is prohibited unless visible ACM has been removed so far as is reasonably practicable by the person proposing to undertake such activities.

The removal of visible ACM from asbestos-contaminated soil or the removal of asbestos-contaminated soil must be performed as per normal asbestos removal requirements.

If friable asbestos is found in the soil or if it has been determined that the non-friable asbestos may become friable due to the works performed a Class A removalist must be engaged.

A Class A removalist can engage an independent contractor to use an excavator to move the asbestos contaminated soil. During the removal work, the independent contractor must be supervised at all times by the Class A removal licence holder.

Either a Class A removalist or Class B removalist can be engaged to remove non-friable ACM in soil. Class B removal work may also be performed by the employee of a Class A or Class B removal licence holder.

Limited asbestos removal, including from soil, is allowed to be performed by an employer or self-employed person without an asbestos removal licence, if:

  • the ACM is non-friable, and
  • the total amount of non-friable ACM to be removed does not exceed 10 square metres in total, and
  • the employer or self-employed person does not perform more than one hour of asbestos removal work in total during a seven day period.
NOTE: The above information is specific to WorkSafe's requirements for asbestos-contaminated soil. The EPA may have other or additional requirements. Readers should contact the EPA for further information.
Asbestos hierarchy of control

A person who manages or controls a workplace must, so far as is reasonably practicable:

  • eliminate any risk associated with the presence of the asbestos, so far as is reasonably practicable, by removing the asbestos
  • if a risk remains, reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable by enclosing the asbestos
  • if a risk remains, further reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable by sealing the asbestos.
  • Note: This hierarchy is specific to the requirements of Part 4.4 (Division 5 – Asbestos in workplaces) of the OHS Regulations, in regard to the presence of asbestos in workplaces. 
Asbestos register

A person with management or control of a workplace has a duty to, so far as is reasonably practicable, identify all asbestos present under their management or control. The details of any asbestos material present must then be recorded in an asbestos register.

The register is required to be accessible to a variety of people. If you rent or lease a commercial premise which contains asbestos you are required to obtain a copy of the asbestos register from the property owner. You must then consider whether you have introduced any asbestos into that workplace, and if so include it in the register. You can find out more about asbestos registers here.
Asbestos removal work

The OHS Regulations defines this as…

The removal of asbestos that is present at a workplace building, structure, ship or plant so that the asbestos is no longer present in that building, structure, ship or plant up to the point of containment.
Asbestos waste

The OHS Regulations defines this as…

Asbestos removed and disposable items used during asbestos removal work or asbestos-related activities, including plastic sheeting and disposable personal protective clothing and disposable protective equipment including tools.
Asbestos-containing material (ACM)

The OHS Regulations defines this as…

Any manufactured material or object that, as part of its design, contains one or more of the mineral silicates referred to in the definition of asbestos (see above) (other than plant in which asbestos is fixed or installed).
Asbestos-related activities

Part 4.4 (Division 8 – Activities involving asbestos) of the OHS Regulations defines this as the following activities carried out at a workplace:

  1. the handling, including for the purpose of removal or transport for disposal, of aircraft and automotive components that are asbestos-containing material or that have ACM fixed to them or installed in them
  2. the laundering of clothing contaminated with asbestos
  3. research involving asbestos
  4. sampling or analysis involving suspected asbestos
  5. the transport of asbestos waste for disposal purposes
  6. working at a site licensed by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria to accept asbestos waste
  7. the enclosing or sealing of asbestos
  8. hand-drilling and cutting of ACM
  9. maintenance of dust extraction equipment, contaminated with asbestos
  10. processing of construction and demolition material in accordance with the method determined by WorkSafe
  11. any other activity (other than asbestos removal work to which Division 7 applies) that is likely to produce airborne asbestos fibres in excess of one half of the asbestos exposure standard
  12. any other activity determined by VWA WorkSafe for the purposes of this Division
Class A asbestos removal work

The OHS Regulations defines this as…

Asbestos removal work (other than limited asbestos removal work) involving the removal of:

  1. friable asbestos, or
  2. asbestos-contaminated dust (other than asbestos-contaminated dust associated with or derived from the removal of non-friable asbestos).
Class B asbestos removal work

The OHS Regulations defines this as…

Asbestos removal work (other than limited asbestos removal work) involving the removal of:

  1. non-friable asbestos, or
  2. asbestos-contaminated dust associated with or derived from the removal of non-friable asbestos.
Clearance certificate

A written statement that a specific area where asbestos removal work has taken place has had specified ACMs removed and has been cleaned of any visible asbestos-containing debris associated with that removal. The requirements for a clearance certificate are stated below.

Friable asbestos removal:

  • air monitoring
  • visual inspection

Non friable asbestos removal (greater than 10 square metres):

  •   visual inspection

The clearance certificate must be arranged by the person who commissioned the work. This may be the owner of the building, or the asbestos removal company in domestic situations.

A clearance certificate is completed by an independent person with the requisite knowledge, skills and experience to carry out the functions needed to complete the clearance certificate.

That is, someone who:

  • has no conflict of interest with either the person commissioning the asbestos removal works or conducting them
  • has the knowledge, skills and experience to carry out the air monitoring or visual inspection. An example of a person with the requisite knowledge, skills and experience is an occupational hygienist. The Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists website  provides a list of occupational hygienists.
Consultation

Consult with employees on matters that may directly affect their health, safety or welfare. Where the employees are represented by a health and safety representative (HSR), the HSR must also be involved in the consultation.

Domestic premises

Premises used solely for domestic purposes.

Demolition 

The OHS Regulations defines this as…

In relation to construction work, the complete or partial dismantling of a building or structure by planned and controlled methods or procedures.
Designated work group (DWG)

A DWG is a negotiated and agreed grouping of employees who share similar workplace health and safety concerns and conditions. It may be made up of employees in one or more workplaces operated by a single employer or employees of multiple employers at one or more workplaces.

Employee

The OHS Act defines this as…

A person employed under a contract of employment or contract of training.
Employer

The OHS Act defines this as…

A person who employs one or more other persons under contracts of employment or contracts of training.
Employer's asbestos register

Identifies asbestos-containing material in the employer's workplace.

Fixed or installed

ACM is regarded as being fixed where it has been attached or secured in position (eg asbestos cement sheet screwed or nailed). ACM is considered installed where it has been specifically placed for a purpose (for example asbestos-containing refractory bricks placed on top of each other or loose asbestos-containing insulation blown into a ceiling space).

Friable

The OHS Regulations defines this as..

When dry:
(a) may be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure, or
(b) as a result of a work process becomes such that it may be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure.

Homeowner The person who owns their own home and is going to undertake work on it to renovate or refurbish. If there is asbestos-containing material in their home and they do all the work themselves, the information under 'In the home' will apply. If they bring builders or tradespeople into their home, then their home becomes a workplace for these people and the guidance under 'In the workplace' will apply.
Management or control

The person who has management or control of a workplace can be the person who:

  • owns the workplace but is not at or based at the workplace (it does not have to be that person's actual place of work)
  • has legally been assigned management and control duties over the workplace (such as a management group that may or may not be located at the workplace, including commercial and industrial property agents)
  • owns the workplace and is working (or has employees working) at the workplace – in this case the person is both the person with management or control and an employer (if they have employees).
NATA

National Association of Testing Authorities (Australia)

Plant

Under the OHS Regulations this is defined as…

  1. any machinery, equipment, appliance, implement and tool, and
  2. any component of any of those things, and
  3. anything fitted, connected or related to any of those things.
Refurbishment

'Refurbishment' may involve the partial dismantling of a building, structure, ship or plant for the purpose of renovating or rebuilding.

Tenant

A person or group that rents and occupies a domestic or commercial property, from another for a period of time. For example, someone who has a rental agreement or lease arrangement on a premises.

Self-employed person

The OHS Act defines this as…

A person, other than an employer, who works for gain or reward otherwise than under a contract of employment or training.
Workplace

The OHS Act defines this as…

A place, whether or not in a building or structure, where employees or self-employed persons work.