Asbestos: Safety basics

Understand health and safety requirements for managing and removing asbestos in workplaces.

Date last updated

Friday 22 Nov 2019

Industries and topics
  • Asbestos

On this page

  • What is asbestos
  • Asbestos is banned
  • Managing asbestos in the workplace
  • Removing asbestos
  • Asbestos in Victorian government buildings

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.

Removing 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 the Asbestos in Victoria website

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.

Asbestos compliance codes