Health and safety issues associated with the use and/or handling of asbestos is regulated in the ACT primarily through two pieces of legislation - the Dangerous Substances Act 2004 and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
ACT Licensed asbestos assessors and removalists
ACT licensed asbestos assessors
Authorised interstate licensed asbestos assessors
ACT licensed asbestos removalists
Approved interstate licensed asbestos removalists
Asbestos Regulations from 1 January 2015
On 25 November 2014 the Dangerous Substances (Asbestos Safety Reform) Amendment Bill 2014 was passed in the Legislative Assembly paving the way for the adoption of the national model asbestos laws. The Bill forms part of a legislative reform package that includes the Work Health and Safety (Asbestos) Amendment Regulation 2014, and two supporting codes of practice.
The regulations can be accessed from the ACT Legislation Register.
Both the Bill and Amendment Regulation commenced on 1 January 2015.
This reform package adopts Chapter 8 of the national model Work Health and Safety Regulations as adapted for the ACT regulatory environment. These model laws were prepared by Safe Work Australia and developed in consultation with representatives of each jurisdiction, including the ACT as well as national representatives from employer and worker organisations.
The national model asbestos regulations set out a framework for the management of asbestos materials in workplaces including:
The Government has built upon the national model regulations by making the following variations:
The Government has also made the decision to regulate the removal of asbestos in non-workplaces through new additions to the Dangerous Substances (General) Regulation 2004. From 1 January 2015 a person must not remove asbestos or asbestos containing material from any premises (including residential premises) unless the person is an appropriately licensed asbestos removalist.
The only exception to this is if the removal is non-friable asbestos or asbestos containing dust incidental to minor or routine maintenance work or other minor work at the premises. To ensure clarity on this change, guidance for employers, workers and homeowners will be developed and published.
To date asbestos safety has focused on the employer-employee relationship – requiring employers to ensure the safety of their workers. These new reforms bring a new focus on community safety and stronger protections for residents, home renovators, neighbours and others in the Canberra community.
The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 uses the following definitions for asbestos:
Frequently asked questions
Q How will the changes affect owners of loose-filled asbestos homes?
A The changes affect standards and procedures surrounding the removal of asbestos from loose fill contaminated homes, but these changes impact asbestos assessors, asbestos removalists, builders, and surveyors, not the home owners themselves. The changes however do add clarity relevant existing obligations under Dangerous substances legislation. For example, a new example has been added to clarify a home owner’s duty to inform workers if asbestos is present in their home.
Q I’m planning to undertake do it yourself home renovations – what do I need to do?
A If you are planning DIY renovations on your house, and it was built before 1 January 2004, you should engage a licensed asbestos assessor to determine whether asbestos is present before you start work. If asbestos is present, you should engage a licensed asbestos removalist to remove it.
Q What does the omission of the 10 square metre exemption mean for the building industry?
A Unless the removal of non-friable asbestos is minor or routine maintenance work, or other minor work, carried out in accordance with the regulations, it is no longer be permitted in the Territory – except when undertaken by an appropriately licensed asbestos removalist.
This means that if you are a person conducting a business or undertaking and you have been contracted to undertake demolition or refurbishment on a structure containing asbestos, it must be removed by a licensed asbestos removalist.
Of course all friable asbestos must be removed by a licensed Class A asbestos removalist
Q What is minor or routine maintenance work, or other minor work?
A Guidance for employers, workers and homeowners is available in WorkSafe ACT's Guidance Note on this matter.
Licensing of Asbestos Assessors and Asbestos Removalists
From 1 January 2015 the regulation of asbestos assessor licenses moved from the Constructions Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 (COLA) to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).
This will mean that responsibility for asbestos assessor and asbestos removalist licensing has moved from the Environment and Planning Directorate to WorkSafe ACT / the Office of Regulatory Services from that date.
Pending any conditions placed on the licence, the holder of an asbestos assessor licence is able to carry out the following in a workplace:
The previous asbestos removalist licence classes provided for under COLA has not changed. There are still be two classes of asbestos removal licence, class A and B, from 1 January 2015. The COLA licence scope applies to work associated with any type of building and worked with the allowance that other qualified tradespeople were able to remove up to 10m2 of non-friable asbestos.
The new scopes apply to all asbestos removal work in a workplace, which does not need to be a building, for example this could include removal of soil containing ACM and ACD from an outdoor workplace. The 10m2 rule is also removed. This means that other than for minor work and minor maintenance work (a separate Guidance Note on minor work and minor maintenance has been issued by WorkSafe ACT) a licensed asbestos removalist must undertake the work.
Frequently Asked Questions:
10 square metre rule
10 square metre rule
From 1 January 2015, the so-called '10 square metre rule' no longer applies in the ACT (it still applies in NSW).
Unless the removal of non-friable asbestos is minor or routine maintenance work, or other minor work, carried out in accordance with the regulations, it is no longer permitted in the Territory – except when undertaken by an appropriately licensed asbestos removalist.
View the WorkSafe ACT publication - GN130 Minor Routine Maintenance Work or Minor Work - which provides further guidance on what constitutes minor or routine maintenance work.
Notification of certain work to WorkSafe ACT
The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 currently requires that WorkSafe ACT be notified of any demolition of a loose-fill asbestos (a 'Mr Fluffy') home. The form for such a notification can be found on the WorkSafe ACT website on the Publications page under Forms & Checklist or by clicking on this direct link.
Similarly, any asbestos removal work in a loose-fill asbestos insulation (a 'Mr Fluffy') home must be notified to WorkSafe ACT. The form for such a notification can be found on the WorkSafe ACT website on the Publications page under Forms & Checklist or by clicking on this direct link.
From 1 January 2015, any asbestos removal work must be notified to WorkSafe ACT.
Links to SmartForms for notification to WorkSafe ACT can be accessed as follows"
Further details regarding the health monitoring requirements of the regulations which will take effect from 1 January 2015 will be provided here in December 2014.
New Codes of Practice
The 1995 asbestos Code of Practice were replaced with two new codes as part of the new legislative regime from 1 January 2015 These new codes are based very closely on the two Model Asbestos Codes of Practice published by Safe Work Australia, with some slight modifications to reflect the changes to the model regulations in the ACT.
The new ACT codes can be accessed on the ACT Legislation Register:
Asbestos Requirements under the Dangerous Substances Legislation
The ACT wiull also regulate the removal of asbestos in non-workplaces through new additions to the Dangerous Substances (General) Regulation 2004. From 1 January 2015 a person must not remove asbestos or asbestos containing material from any premises (including residential premises) unless the person is an appropriately licensed asbestos removalist.
The only exception to this will be if the removal is non-friable asbestos or asbestos containing dust incidental to minor or routine maintenance work or other minor work [see the separate heading on this subject below] at the premises.
Further details regarding the requirements for dealing with asbestos under the ACT's Dangerous Substances legislation from 1 January 2015 will be provided here shortly.
Asbestos Awareness Training
In June 2014, the ACT Government announced new laws mandating asbestos awareness training for workers an employer reasonably believes will work with asbestos or ACM while at work.
The regulation [section 445 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation] mandates this training for all construction occupations.
The regulation mandates a specific training course - the VET course Asbestos Awareness [10314NAT]. From 1 July 2014 only training in this course will meet the requirements of the regulation. WorkSafe ACT will accept some training done by other organisations prior to 1 July and further details of this can be found on WorkSafe ACT's Guidance Note No. 98 [see publications below].
At the moment the following registered training organisations (RTOs) are approved to deliver the new course:
The new regulation took effect from 1 July 2014, with all workers effected by the regulation to be trained by 30 September 2014.
The regulation places an obligation on the PCBU [generally the employer] to keep records of which of their workers have been trained. Fines may apply if employers do not have their workers trained in this new course.
Workers are not required by WorkSafe ACT to carry a card providing proof that they have undertaken this training. The obligation to keep records of which workers have been trained rests with the employer.
Guidance Note No. 98 contains information on a new training program covering asbestos awareness, identification and reporting which was developed in the ACT through the Construction Industry Training Council and launched in July 2012.
Link to the Schedule of Construction Occupations specified in the regulation.
All ideas, suggestions and contributions for improvements to the 10314 Nat course in Asbestos Awareness are appreciated and will be carefully considered by the governance committee.
Forward your feedback to the governance committee to firstname.lastname@example.org
Minor Routine Maintenance and Minor Work
The WorkSafe ACT publication - GN130 Minor Routine Maintenance Work or Minor Work - provides further guidance on what constitutes such work.
Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation ['Mr Fluffy'] Homes
Since the late 1960s an unknown and perhaps unknowable number of Canberrans have lived inhomes affected by loose fill asbestos insulation. Some of them paid to have it installed, but many have only discovered its presence in their homes in recent times. In the late 1980s and early 1990s a joint Commonwealth and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government program sought to remove visible and accessible asbestos from affected homes. For a while it was thought by many that the asbestos was gone altogether, or that at least it was confined to roof spaces and wall cavities
The ACT Government Asbestos Response Taskforce has now found that loose asbestos fibres remain in the roof spaces, wall cavities, and subfloors of affected homes. In recent times they have also been found, sometimes in visible quantities, in cupboards, heating and cooling ducts and vents, living rooms and bedrooms.
‘Mr Fluffy’ is the commonly used name for the asbestos fluff insulation installed by D. Jansen & Co. Pty Ltd and its successor firms which installed loose fill asbestos insulation between 1968 and 1978–79 in Canberra and, it is believed, the surrounding region. Contemporary advertisements promised ‘sure comfort and fuel savings’ to homeowners who paid less than $100 to insulate an average 11 square house with what was claimed to be ‘CSIRO Tested and Approved’ as ‘the perfect thermal insulating material’1. That material comprised raw asbestos, crushed and blown into roof spaces and allowed to settle across the battens and ceilings, and behind the cornices, of more than 1000 Canberra homes.
Further detail regarding the loose-fill asbestos insulation (or ‘Mr Fluffy’) homes can be found on the ACT Government Asbestos Response Taskforce web pages.
Working Safely in a Mr Fluffy home [PDF]
Sticker Tags for loose-fill asbestos insulation ('Mr Fluffy') homes
View information about the requirement for the 'tagging' of homes in the ACT affected by loose-fill asbestos insulation.
Further information about asbestos including information regarding its health effects, working with it, removing it and the disposal of it can be found at asbestos.act.gov.au.
The following WorkSafe ACT publications provide more information on this subject:
Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency
The Commonwealth Government has created an agency - the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency - to oversight the devlopment and implementation of a national approach to the management of asbestos in Australia.
The agency's website is www.asbestossafety.gov.au.
Overheads from Training Session
View PDF copy of the overheads from the training seminars on the new asbestos laws being conducted in early 2015.