Dealing with hazardous asbestos
Asbestos fibres were used widely in building materials before the mid-1980s. If your house was built or renovated before the mid-1980s, it is likely to contain asbestos cement building materials.
You may be surprised at the various types of products that were made from bonded asbestos cement included fibro sheeting (flat and corrugated), water drainage and flue pipes, roofing shingles and guttering, even the backing of vinyl sheet floor coverings.
In NSW, the use of asbestos was discontinued in all fibro sheets and products by the mid-1980s. After this, asbestos continued to be used principally in friction products, for brake and clutch linings.
The manufacture and use of asbestos products was banned nationally in Australia from 31 December 2003.
Asbestos materials that are in good condition are unlikely to release asbestos fibres if left undisturbed. If asbestos materials are in good condition, paint them and leave them alone.
National Asbestos Awareness Month and Asbestos Awareness aims to alert Australians to the dangers of working with asbestos during home renovations and maintenance and educate them about where asbestos might be found in and around the home.
Whether a home is constructed of weatherboard, brick, fibro or has exterior cladding, asbestos can be found in and around most homes built or renovated before 1987.
Asbestos can be found in kitchens, bathrooms, laundries and under floor covering, behind wall and floor tiles, in cement floors, internal and external walls, garages, ceilings, eaves, fences, extensions to homes, and backyard sheds... it could be anywhere. Don’t play renovation roulette! Visit Asbestos Awareness. It’s not worth the risk!
Asbestos and renovating
If you are thinking of renovating and removing more than 10 square metres, you MUST either hire a qualified asbestos removalist or obtain a NSW Workcover bonded asbestos removal licence which requires you to attend an appropriate training course run by TAFE or a registered training organisation.
Any loose or friable asbestos must be removed by a qualified asbestos removalist and cannot be removed by the homeowner.
WorkCover must be notified at least five days (5 days) before the licensed asbestos removal work starts. Asbestos removalists licensed in NSW can lodge the notification electronically using WorkCover's Asbestos and demolition online notification system or complete the notification form.
The licensed removalist should also forward a notification letter to all neighbouring properties to advise of any removal work that is proposed.
Only scientific testing of a sample of material by an accredited National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) asbestos testing laboratory can confirm the presence of asbestos. For information on testing and accredited laboratories in your area, visit www.nata.com.au or call 1800 621 666.
Call the Work Cover Authority of NSW on 13 10 50 for more information about asbestos or click on the following links:
- WorkCover NSW Guide to Working With Asbestos
- WorkCover NSW Fibro and Asbestos for Renovators and Homeowner's Guide
- WorkCover NSW Bonded Asbestos Fact Sheet
The NSW Government has produced a website and a brochure: Fibro and Asbestos - A Renovator and Homeowner's Guide.
The NSW Government DIY Safe website contains information about the hazards and risks that home renovators may face from a range of chemicals and materials, including asbestos.
All asbestos removal is to be in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos NOHSC [2002 (2005)].
Complaints about Unsafe Work at a Residential Property
|Work conducted by a contractor or worker||WorkCover NSW ||13 10 50|
|Licensed removal work at a residence||WorkCover NSW ||13 10 50|
|Work conducted by a neighbour (not contractor or owner-builder)||Randwick City Council||1300 722 542|
|Removal work carried out by the home owner or tenant as part of renovations or demolition work||Randwick City Council||1300 722 542|
|Small removal and maintenance jobs are carried out by home owner/tenant||Randwick City Council||1300 722 542|
|Asbestos waste dumped on public land, roads, footpaths, parks reserves, beaches , etc||Randwick City Council||1300 722 542|