Manage asbestos for employers who don't own their premises
If you identify asbestos in your workplace.
- Check its condition. For example: 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.
- 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.
Following the steps below can help you manage and control asbestos in your workplace
Ask for the asbestos register from your building owner or manager
Your building owner or manager must give you a copy of their asbestos register. This will help you work out whether any of your work is likely to disturb or damage the asbestos. If you think there is an asbestos risk you must tell your building manager or owner. See point four below for more information.
Create an asbestos register
If you find asbestos in any plant or equipment over which you have management or control, you need to create your own asbestos register to record the presence of this asbestos. This means that your workplace is likely to have two asbestos registers –
1. a register created by your building manager or owner that records asbestos in the building or structure
2. a register created by you that records asbestos under your management and control (including plant and equipment).
Asbestos registers must be revised if there is a change to the condition of asbestos, including if it is removed, enclosed or sealed. Your register must also be reviewed and if necessary revised every five years to keep it current.
Provide access to the asbestos register
The asbestos register should be readily accessible to your employees. Employers also have a duty to provide a copy of the asbestos register to:
- Health and Safety Representatives for any affected designated work group
- An asbestos licence-holder who has been engaged to do asbestos removal work
- Other persons, including those who perform the following asbestos-related activities:
- Sampling or analysing suspected asbestos
- Enclosing or sealing asbestos
- Hand-drilling or cutting asbestos-containing material
- Conducting research involving asbestos
- Transporting asbestos for disposal
- Perform any other work activity likely to produce asbestos airborne fibre in excess of one half of the asbestos exposure standards.
- Anyone who takes over management or control of the workplace.
Notify the person with management or control of any risks
You must notify your building manager or owner if any of your work will create a risk because of the asbestos in the workplace.
For example, if you are using a forklift to move and store pallets alongside an asbestos cement wall, there may be a risk of damage to the asbestos. In this case, you must inform the building manager or owner so that they can control the risk. In this example, the building manager or owner may implement a control measure, like replacing the wall or altering the workplace layout.
Identify and label the asbestos
Once asbestos has been identified its location must be identified. Direct labelling is the an effective method of identifying asbestos and should be considered first.
Different methods of indicating the presence of asbestos include:
- Placing labels directly on asbestos (if safe)
- Placing colour-coded labels on asbestos and informing all employees what the labels mean
- Placing a sign at the entrance to the workplace or work area
- Identifying the location of asbestos on site plans and making them accessible to employees
- Using a register that records where the asbestos is located.
Regardless of which method you use, all employees (including contractors) must be aware of the system of identification. Whatever system of identificaiton is used, all employees must be aware of it and it must be maintained. 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. This may be achieved by implementing a permit-to-work system that ensures people are made aware of the presence and location of asbestos before they commence work.
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 provided to. 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
Victorian law specifies 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.
We have detailed advice that explains some of the steps you can take to control asbestos in the workplace.
Train and educate employees
If you have used control measures to manage the risks associated with asbestos, you must provide your employees with sufficient information, instruction and training so they can perform their work in a way that is safe and doesn’t risk their health. The information and training must include:
- The hazards associated with asbestos in the workplace
- The control measures used
- The reasons for the control measures
- Details of medical examinations (if necessary)
- The right of employees to have access to the asbestos register.
Know your duties for working with asbestos
As an employer, you have duties for specific asbestos-related activities carried out in the workplace including:
- hand drilling and cutting asbestos containing material
- enclosing or sealing asbestos
- transporting asbestos for disposal
- maintenance and dust extraction equipment contaminated with asbestos
- laundering clothing contaminated with asbestos
- research involving asbestos
- analysing suspected asbestos
- working on a site licensed by EPA Victoria to accept asbestos waste.
If any of the tasks above need to be undertaken in your workplace, you should read our detailed advice about working with asbestos [link to working with asbestos].
Consult with your employees
Victoria’s health and safety laws require employers to consult with employees and Health and Safety Representatives who are, or are likely to be directly affected by any health and safety matter. Consultation should include sharing information, giving employees the opportunity to express their views, and taking those views into account.