The Victorian Asbestos Regulations, "Asbestos in the Workplace", require persons who manage or control workplaces and employers to manage the risk of asbestos in the workplace. This checklist is a guide to key issues an OHS Representative can ask about - and the responses you should get!
1. Have you checked whether asbestos is present in your buildings?
An asbestos register has carried out by the person who manages or controls the workplace. This means that :
- a survey/inspection has been done to find materials that might have asbestos in them;
- if this has not been done, then a survey/inspection has been planned for ____ (date)
- If the employer is not the person who manages/controls the workplace, then the employer has obtained the most recent copy of the register;
- an approved analyst has confirmed whether or not materials have asbestos in them;
- it has been assumed that inaccessible areas contain asbestos;
- it is current - that is, it is less than 5 years old and has been reviewed whenever there were potential changes to the state of the asbestos
2. Have you got a record or drawing which clearly shows where in your buildings the asbestos is and what condition it is in?
- A copy of the most recent register is readily accessible to any employee who has the potential to be exposed to asbestos;
- A copy has also been provided to the OHS Representative/s;
- The presence and location of asbestos has been clearly identified and labelled; or
- This will be done when the survey/ inspection is finished.
3. How are you managing the asbestos in your building? What action have you taken to control the risk?
- The damaged asbestos has been removed by a licensed asbestos removalist. If it is damaged, it is probably 'friable' and so can only be removed by a Class A Removalist. Other asbestos in walls is painted to seal in fibres and stop their release into the workplace atmosphere;
- Walls and doors containing asbestos are labelled;
- As the employer, you have determined whether atmospheric monitoring is required, such as when there is a chance that the exposure standard might be exceeded;
- Building and maintenance workers are told where asbestos is before they start work;
- Areas containing asbestos are regularly checked to make sure the asbestos has not deteriorated or been damaged
4. How are you checking that your management systems that are meant to prevent exposure to asbestos actually work and continue to do so?
- The arrangements to control the risk are periodically reviewed as a matter of course;
- This includes the identification of where and/or when the control measures need to be reassessed and revised
- Spot checks are done to ensure that building/maintenance workers are getting the right information and working safely;
- Prior to any planned refurbishment or demolition of any part of the workplace is planned:
- consultation occurs with the representatives and
- action is taken to ensure the register is checked and up-to-date
- The OHS Representative/s are regularly consulted.
If your employer cannot answer your questions, or gives you another answer, then "Warning Bells" should sound.
As an OHS Representative, you have the right to:
- this information
- to be consulted about what your employer is doing to manage the risks of asbestos exposure
- require that the register be redone if it is not up to scratch.
For more information, go to Asbestos Action Plan for Reps