Managing asbestos for employers who own their own building
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, for example asbestos dust is present and therefore it is likely that airborne asbestos fibres may be released into the air, then you should have the asbestos material removed.
Following the steps below can help you manage and control asbestos in your workplace.
Create an Asbestos Register
Whenever asbestos is identified in a workplace, you need to create an asbestos register to record the presence of the asbestos. Asbestos registers must be revised 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
The asbestos register should be readily accessible to any employee. 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
- Anyone who takes over management or control of the workplace
- Any contractors who perform work that involves the risk of exposure to asbestos.
Label the asbestos
Once asbestos has been identified its location must be 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 employees, including contractors must be aware of the system of labelling. Labels must also 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.
More advice on labelling can be found in Labelling asbestos in workplaces.
Inform contractors who enter the workplace
Before they start, any contractors such as plumbers, electricians and carpenters 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 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.
More information can be found about effective ways to control risk in the Step by step guide to managing asbestos in workplaces including:
- appointing an asbestos coordinator
- management of contractors
- incident and hazard reporting and management
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 to enable them to perform their work in a manner that is safe and without risk to health.
The information and training should include:
- The hazards associated with asbestos in the workplace
- The control measures used
- The reasons for the control measures
- 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
- sampling and analysing suspect 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 or refer to the Asbestos Related Activities Section of the Compliance Code - Managing asbestos in workplaces for specific duties around: identifying asbestos, obtaining a register, hierarchy of control measures, cleaning, isolation of work areas, medical examinations, decontamination, waste management, laundering of clothing, training for employees and the provision of information to prospective employees.
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 so far as is reasonably practicable. Consultation must include sharing information, giving employees the opportunity to express their views, and taking those views into account.