Asbestos Management Excuses

 

 

A PCBU “must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that all asbestos or ACM at the workplace is identified by a competent person or assume its presence” also “must, where asbestos has been identified at the workplace, ensure an asbestos management plan is prepared, maintained and reviewed. It must be accessible to workers, their health and safety representatives and other persons”. These are straight from the Asbestos Regulations and Codes of Practice.

So why are so many workplace or their associated PCBU (Person with control of a business or undertaking) not doing it?

I’ve heard so many excuses or wrong beliefs such as –

  • We only need to do it when we sell the building.
  • We’ve owned the building from new so we know there’s no asbestos here.
  • I built the building so I know there is no asbestos.
  • I didn’t know.
  • There’s none here as we don’t have an asbestos roof.
  • It’s a Charity (or volunteer) organisation.
  • I know where it is so I don’t need a report.
  • What is asbestos?
  • We only do the maintenance on the building.
  • I just need a certificate.
  • I have an old Asbestos Register which will do.
  • Don’t want it to delay sale of the building.

Or my favourite from a large builder that I was told last year-

  • The time cost in the delay getting it done is greater than the fine even if we are caught!

Why aren’t companies keeping up with the Asbestos requirements? Cost? Don’t have the time/resources to get it done? Another reason?

I would be happy for any feedback on the real reason organisations are not getting them done. Look forward to hearing from you.

It’s 2018 and these laws have been in place since the late 1980s in some states and in Qld only since 2000 (18 years) and I’m still hearing these excuses everyday obviously the penalties aren’t harsh enough or enforcement not rigorous enough? Why aren’t workplaces keeping up with the Asbestos requirements?  Cost?  Don’t have the time/resources to get it done? Not a priority? Another reason ?

I would be happy for any feedback on the real reasons workplaces are not keeping up or getting Asbestos Management Plans and Registers done . Look forward to hearing from you. 

 

 

Asbestos In Electrical Boxes

Most people still aren’t aware of the fact that asbestos was frequently used in older-style electrical fuse and meter boxes. For example, electrical backing boards were manufactured containing asbestos as a fire retardant and to resist electrical arcing. Common stamped brand names used in Australia include Zelemite or Ausbestos.

 Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Asbestos Electrical Backing Board  Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Electrical Backing Board Containing Asbestos  Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Electrical Board Containing Asbestos   

Even boards with new digital meters or modern circuit breakers may still use the old asbestos board to mount them on.

Electrical boxes were also often constructed using asbestos-containing sheeting as thermal insulation inside the box, with a metal or timber outer construction and a front face mounting board containing asbestos or resin board sheet. The door or cover to these boxes may sometimes also have an asbestos cement, asbestos insulation board or asbestos millboard internal lining.

Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Asbestos Electrical Box Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL -Electrical Box with Asbestos Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Asbestos Electrical Junction Box

Old fuses too contained asbestos internally

Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Asbestos Electrical Fuse Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Asbestos in Electrical Fuse 

I know you might be saying well that’s the electricians problem unfortunately many electricians are either not aware or decide they are not going to remove the asbestos material.

 We often see old asbestos bits left discarded which end up in the yard or shed.

Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Asbestos Bits on Descarded Fuses   Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Asbestos in Discarded Box   Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Asbestos in Discarded Electrical Boxes   Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Discarded Box with Asbestos

This then does become the responsibility of the owner to dispose of it appropriately. Be aware that Brisbane City Council rubbish tips will not accept ANY asbestos containing materials but other Councils will. Ring your local council if you are left with asbestos containing material to see where they would like it taken.

For more information contact me on my email-

brian@asbestos-audits.com.au 

And for more examples and images of unusual (and common) places to find asbestos in your home, get a copy of our book Identifying Asbestos in your Home

A Quick Renovation & Asbestos

A Simple Reno and Asbestos

I’m an investor, I’m also a guy who inspects buildings for asbestos for a living. I’ve been doing it for 29 years- I’ve only been dabbling in investing for 10 years. So you have purchased your investment property and now you want to save a few dollars by doing a quick reno yourself before flipping it or subdividing the block or both.

Just rip up the floor coverings and do a minor or cosmetic renovation on the bathroom and kitchen, maybe get a new electrical board to cope with the airconditioner and fans you’re going to install.

Asbestos – you’ve probably heard of it, know it’s dangerous but really not the stuff you’re worried about in your project (driveway width, council approval for tree removal, holding costs etc).

What if I told you that asbestos is in over 3500 different products identified by the CSIRO in Australia before the 2003 complete ban and that doesn’t include all the newer Chinese products which contain asbestos.

Asbestos Audits Queensland -AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Gaskets   Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Asbestos in Flower Pots   Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Bunsen Burner

Then I tell you one of the most dangerous things you can do is rip up that old vinyl sheet with the 1970s pattern on it and sand the floor so you can polish the floorboards beneath. The paper or felt backing material used to cushion the underside of the vinyl is close to 100% asbestos it sticks to the floor board and tears as you rip it up and releases the asbestos into the air, then on top of that you sand the floor which just creates a cloud of airborne asbestos that you will breathe in and take with you on your clothes and shoes.

Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Asbestos Backed Vinyl   Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Asbestos Back Vinyl2  Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Roll of Asbestos Backed Vinyl

Even vinyl tiles can contain asbestos, that’s a bit safer though because they didn’t put much in them and it’s bound up in the plastic (vinyl) and won’t come out in a hurry no matter what you do to it but it is still there.

Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Tiles with Asbestos      Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Asbestos in Vinyl

Now the bathroom and kitchen are the places you want to change. The bath and shower, hand basin and tiles well they are all attached to something to hold them in place and if it isn’t concrete or brick it will be asbestos cement sheeting. The glue used to attached the tiles also contained asbestos- commonly known as “Blackjack”

And don’t think the new ceiling extractor light can be fitted without problem as the ceiling is probably asbestos cement sheet.

Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Asbestos in Shower Cubicles  Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Asbestos on Bathtub  Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Bathroom Adhesive

 Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Asbestos AC Bathroom Ceiling Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - AC Bathroom Ceiling Asbestos  Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Asbestos in Kitchen Accessories

If the building is brick or concrete channels may have been carved in them for the hot water pipes to the shower and bath and filled with asbestos packing that was commonly available in hardware stores. This wasn’t that common in warmer areas of Australia however.

Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Looks for Asbestos

But if you’re a Queensland investor you may have an even bigger worry a product that seems mainly confined to Queensland called asbestos insulation or low density board. It’s a thin lightweight board that disintegrates easily and was used as walls and ceilings and is very common in highset homes. It has a much higher asbestos content than asbestos cement sheet and is that much more dangerous.

Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Asbestos in Wall Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Asbestos in Walls 2

 

So be careful even if doing a basic renovation you can expose yourself and your family (either directly or by taking it home on your clothes) to the dangers of asbestos. And for more examples and images of unusual (and common) places to find asbestos in your home, get a copy of our book Identifying Asbestos in your Home

 

Asbestos and developing a Block

Yes you looked at that new deal – demolition, followed by split the block and sell one and build a house on the other. The financials look good but hang on the building inspector mentioned something about asbestos in the building to be demolished!

Shouldn’t be a problem will just get the demolisher to cart it away with the other rubble.

Six months go past you’re trying to sell the new block and build on the other but the new builder won’t go on it or build on it because of the asbestos contamination all over it……..

We see this all the time (even on a recent Property Development Bus trip). The blocks have been left contaminated with asbestos debris everywhere.

Asbestos Audits Queensland -AAQ PL - Asbestos Debris Asbestos Audits Queensland AAQ PL - Renovating Asbestos - Asbestos in Debris

It’s not just from rooves and fences however, most of the entire house you just knocked down was asbestos, including the roof, walls, some internal ceilings and walls, floor coverings, various pipes and electricals.

You didn’t know that you needed to remove the asbestos before you knock down a building in Australia? Hmmm when you receive your notice from the Council and then the fine and then your neighbours call Workplace Health and Safety because they saw the sheeting being crushed and a lot of dust was generated and no precautions were taken and you’re facing another fine and even gaol time because it made the evening panic news story and they can easily get video of your blocks, what will you do then? Your demolisher will also face a fine but if you didn’t tell him about the asbestos then you are at fault because when you engaged him it became a Workplace and you became the Person with Control of the Business or Undertaking (PCBU). During the actual demolition the demolisher is the PCBU but it’s now too late your left with contaminated blocks of land to try and sell or build on.

Many demolishers won’t remind you because they can get in and get out quick and you’re left holding the bag. Reputable ones will remind you (mainly because they can charge an extra profit fee on top with minimal extra work by them) and will know the forms and routine on how it’s done properly.

What you should do is ensure firstly that your demolisher has an asbestos licence for removal of the asbestos prior to demolition (it may even only happen in the day/s before demolition) and that your confident they know what they are doing (check references especially previous clients). Also that you receive from them an Asbestos Clearance Certificate saying the site is safe to re-occupy after demolition regarding asbestos removal and also a copy of the waste disposal certificate (so you know they didn’t use it for landfill somewhere on your blocks or somebody else’s).

If you want to be really on your game and not blindly trust the demolisher you can engage an independent company to carry out an Asbestos Audit or Asbestos Survey of the building so that you can see if the so called asbestos walls they charged you for really were asbestos or actually masonite (wood). Yes I have seen people charged for asbestos disposal of wood!

A cleanup of the site after the contamination and then a Clearance Certificate is much more costly to you than having the correct procedure carried out during the demolition process and during your continuing construction excavations further asbestos may be unearthed leaving you with more problems and delays.

Asbestos doesn’t need to be a drama just think of it as another step in the process- disconnect power (electrician) disconnect water (plumber) locate and remove asbestos then demolish building, receive clearance then keep going.