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Working in domestic residences and commercial workplaces

As a builders or a tradesperson, you are likely to come across asbestos when working on either commercial workplaces or domestic sites. You should be especially careful when undertaking work at a domestic residence because the homeowner or occupier may not be aware that there is asbestos present.

As a self-employed builder or tradesperson, you have a general duty to 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. This general duty applies when undertaking asbestos-related work at the following:

  1. Attending a domestic residence

In general, domestic premises are not workplaces. This means that the duties which relate to asbestos in workplaces (including the duty to identify asbestos) is not owed by, for example, the homeowner or persons leasing the premises,


2. Attending a commercial workplace

If you are likely to disturb asbestos in order to complete your work, then the person with management of control of the workplace you are attending must provide you with a copy of their asbestos register, when requested. An asbestos register is used to identify where asbestos is located.

The duties of a person with management or control in relation to managing asbestos may also apply to you (including the duty to identify asbestos that is under your management or control so far as is reasonable practicable). The scope of your work (i.e. task to be performed) should help determine the extend of your management or control.

The find and identify asbestos tool can help you find out where asbestos is commonly located in both domestic and commercial premises.

While at a (commercial) workplace, you have a duty to identify asbestos (including inaccessible areas) so far as is reasonably practicable that is under your management or control. In doing so, you should, for example, identify when the building was constructed and what materials were used in its construction.

You may use a competent person to identify asbestos. Anyone engaged to inspect asbestos, determining risk, or recommending control measures must be competent to do so.

If there is uncertainty (based on reasonable grounds) as to whether any material is likely to contain asbestos, then you either:

  • Assume asbestos is present; or
  • Arrange for analysis of a sample to be undertaken.

Samples should be taken in a controlled manner that does not create a risk to you and people who will work or visit the area where the sample was taken.

For further information on how to find and identify asbestos in your workplace, you should review the detailed information.