What are the Australian laws around asbestos removal?
Asbestos Removal…This is what I have been researching for the last three days. Our whole renovation plans depend on what is going to happen to the interior walls and part of our roof. How much will it cost? How much has to be removed? How far will it set the rest of our plans back? What are required to do by law? I have spent a lot of time looking through the ADFA website.
Asbestos is not something to be taken lightly. You only need to spend a few moments on the Asbestos[dot]com website, created by the Mesothelioma Centre to understand just how dangerous and destructive asbestos can be.
I am absolutely paranoid about asbestos. I keep thinking I must have played with it as a child. I have visions of holding small sheets of a building material and trying to carve it into shapes. Perhaps it was plaster board? I will never know. But I will not go any where near the crazy stuff now.
We have known about the asbestos since we brought the house. It was listed in our building inspection before the money even changed hands. For us it was not a deal breaker as 1 in 3 Australian homes contain some amount of asbestos. Yikes…! Apparently you can live in a house with asbestos with no worries. Asbestos becomes toxic when it is being cut, broken or destroyed.
Australia has the second highest rate of Mesothelioma deaths in the world.
Our very high death rates from Asbestos is directly linked to our high consumption and use of asbestos in building houses. Between 1950 and 1970 Australia had the highest rate per capitca use of asbestos in the world. SO it is very likely that if you are buying a house in the next 20 years, you will probably have to deal with asbestos and it’s removal.
The Australian Government has a website that covers all their issues of fair trading, in regards to hazardous materials.
dealing with hazardous materials
Safe working practices for renovators
With the current renovation boom, the NSW Government wants to help ensure that homeowners and renovators are aware of the risks associated with removing hazardous materials from their homes, such as asbestos, lead, treated timber, volatile compounds and powdered materials.
Asbestos and other hazardous materials can be very harmful to your health. Home renovators are strongly encouraged to obtain information on these hazardous materials and to adopt safe working practices when renovating, especially when working on older homes.
NSW Health and the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation have developed DIY Safe, a list of potentially hazardous materials found in buildings and tips for safe renovation practices.
Asbestos and its removal
Until the mid-1980’s, asbestos was widely used in a range of home building materials. If your house was built or renovated during this era, it is likely you have asbestos in your home.
Removing or working with building materials that contain asbestos can release asbestos fibres, creating a health risk. These fibres are too small to see, but if they are breathed in they can cause an incurable cancer known as mesothelioma as well as other illnesses.
Removing or disturbing asbestos is a dangerous and complicated process best carried out by professionals who have completed the necessary training.
Bonded asbestos is when asbestos fibres are bonded to another material, such as a cement or resin binder. A WorkCover licence is needed to remove 10 square metres or more of bonded asbestos.
Further information about handling and disposing of asbestos and other hazardous materials is available from the following:
The asbestos awareness website provides renovators with access to many existing sources of information about how to deal safely with asbestos products.
Office of Environment and Heritage
59-61 Goulburn Street, Sydney
PO Box A290, Sydney South NSW 1232
Tel: 9995 5000 (switch)
TTY: 9211 4723 (for hearing impaired callers)
For information on collection, storage, transport and disposal of asbestos waste.
Department of Local Government
(for details of your local council)
5 O’Keefe Avenue
Nowra NSW 2541
Tel: 4428 4100
NSW Department of Health
73 Miller Street
North Sydney NSW 2060
Tel: 9391 9000
TTY: 9391 9900
For information on asbestos and health risks, and do-it-yourself safely dust and fume hazard information.
WorkCover Authority of NSW
92-100 Donnison Street
GOSFORD NSW 2250
Tel: 4321 5000
For information on safe working practices, asbestos licences or asbestos in general.