What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the name for a group of minerals that were used to manufacture a wide range of products including many that were used in Australian buildings until the mid-late 1980s. Exposure to asbestos fibres may cause diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
Asbestos is banned
Use of asbestos is banned in Australia. You must not import, manufacture, supply, sell, use or reuse asbestos or products that contain asbestos. The asbestos ban came into force at the end of 2003. However, some materials containing asbestos may inadvertently be imported.
Under the law there are duties and requirements for managing asbestos in workplaces, working with asbestos and removing asbestos.
Managing asbestos in the workplace
Buildings and products from before 2004 may still contain asbestos. Until the 1980s it was manufactured, sold and used in various forms like:
- vinyl floor tiles
- cement roof sheeting and wall lining
- lagging and jointing material
- fire blankets
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations) require employers and those with management or control of workplaces to identify and control risks associated with asbestos. For example, there are duties relating to identifying asbestos in workplaces, labelling it, keeping an asbestos register and controlling risks to health associated with asbestos.
In most cases, asbestos removal must be done by a licensed removalist. Unlicensed removal of limited amounts of non-friable asbestos is permitted under certain circumstances.
Licensed removalists must comply with particular requirements when removing asbestos. They also must notify WorkSafe when removing asbestos.
Asbestos in Victorian government buildings
The Victorian Asbestos Eradication Agency (VAEA) is establishing a register of asbestos in Victorian government buildings and advising the government on priorities for removal.
Visit Asbestos Victoria website
The Asbestos Victoria website is a collaborative project involving EPA Victoria (Environment Protection Authority),the Victorian Department of Health, and VWA. Collectively, we have responsibility for the regulation and protection of Victorians from exposure to asbestos at home, at work and in the environment.
Managing asbestos in workplaces: A step-by-step guide
Asbestos: A handbook for workplaces
Managing domestic non-friable asbestos
Identification and control of asbestos in workplaces
Labelling asbestos in workplaces
More information about asbestos registers
Asbestos-cement water pipe management
Asbestos-containing products in motor vehicle workshops
Removing asbestos – before demolition or refurbishment
Fire damaged or non-friable asbestos containing material