As a commercial property owner of premises leased or rented to a business, if you identify asbestos-containing material then you are responsible for managing the asbestos (including plant) that is under your management or control, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes ensuring all asbestos and suspected asbestos is documented in your asbestos register.
If the asbestos is in good condition and left undisturbed, it is usually safer to leave it fixed or installed and review its condition over time provided it is unlikely that asbestos fibres will be released into the air and the risk to health is extremely low. The presence and location of identified asbestos must be clearly indicated, and if reasonably practicable, the indication is by labelling.
If the asbestos has
deteriorated, been disturbed or if asbestos-contaminated dust is present the likelihood
that airborne asbestos fibres will
be released into the air is increased. If
there is a risk of exposure to airborne asbestos fibres, you must control the risk by, for example, removing the asbestos.
In circumstances where asbestos is removed you need to update your asbestos
Follow the steps below to manage asbestos on your premises.
Create an asbestos register
Whenever asbestos is identified in a workplace that you manage or control, you have a duty to create an asbestos register and keep it updated with any change to the condition of asbestos, including if it is removed, enclosed or sealed. The register must also be reviewed and if necessary revised every five years to keep it current.
Provide access to the asbestos register
You must provide a copy of your asbestos register to:
- any employer or self-employed person whose business is located at the workplace
- an asbestos licence-holder who has been engaged to perform asbestos removal work
- employers who perform the following asbestos-related activities:
- sampling or analysing suspected asbestos
- enclosing or sealing asbestos
- hand-drilling or cutting asbestos
- conducting research involving asbestos
- performing any other work activity likely to produce asbestos airborne fibres in excess of one half of the asbestos exposure standard.
- anyone who takes over management or control of the workplace
- any employer or self-employed person who proposes to occupy the workplace (if requested)
- any contractors who perform work that involves the risk of exposure to asbestos.
Label the asbestos
Once asbestos has been identified its presence and location must be clearly indicated. Adhering a label containing the word 'asbestos' directly on asbestos material is the most effective method of indicating asbestos and should be considered first.
Where this direct labelling is not possible, labels should be situated as close as possible to the asbestos material.
Where a label cannot be placed directly on or adjacent to identified asbestos, a label nearby or at entrance points to buildings or rooms should be considered.
Ensure that labelling is consistent with asbestos locations on your asbestos register.
Regardless of which method you use, all employers working on your premises, including contractors, need to be aware of the system of labelling. Where direct labelling is not used, particular attention needs to be given to identifying the presence and location of asbestos to contractors such as plumbers, electricians and carpenters before they commence work. More information on labelling can be found in labelling asbestos in workplaces and the Managing asbestos in workplaces compliance code.
Inform contractors who enter the workplace
Before they start, any contractors who are engaged to perform work that involves the risk of exposure to asbestos must be given a copy of the asbestos register. The register must include the location of the asbestos.
A permit-to-work system should be implemented to ensure contractors are aware of asbestos before starting work.
Control the risk
Victorian law specifies three stages in the hierarchy of control that must be used to control risks from asbestos.
1. Eliminate the risk so far as reasonably practicable by removing the asbestos
2. If a risk remains, reduce the risk so far as reasonably practicable by enclosing the asbestos
3. If a risk remains, further reduce the risk so far as reasonably practicable by sealing the asbestos.
More information can be found about effective ways to control risk in A step by step guide to managing asbestos in workplaces and the Managing asbestos in workplaces compliance code.