As a commercial property owner of premises leased or rented to 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, ie: asbestos dust is present and therefore it is likely that airborne asbestos fibres may be released into the air, then you must control the risk by, for example, removing the asbestos
There are a number of steps you can take to help you manage and control asbestos in your workplace, including controlling the risk, notifying anyone contracted to work at the workplace of the presence of asbestos, managing your asbestos register and informing all employers in the immediate and adjacent areas of any proposed asbestos removal work.
Following the steps below can help you manage and control asbestos in your building or structure
Create an asbestos register
Whenever asbestos is identified in a workplace, you need to create an asbestos register to record the presence of all asbestos in the workplace. Asbestos registers must be reviewed if there is a 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:
- Any employer or self-employed person whose business is located at the workplace
- An asbestos licence-holder who has been engaged to do asbestos removal work
- Employers who perform the follow 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.
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 provided with access to the asbestos register. The register must include the location of the asbestos.
A permit-to-work system can be implemented to ensure contractors are aware of asbestos before starting work.
Control the risk
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations specify three stages in the hierarchy of controls 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.