Part 4.3 of the regulations (Part 4.4 in the 2017 regulations) deals with asbestos in the workplace, and seeks to protect workers and others from exposure to asbestos fibres in the workplace or during removal. A Dangerous Goods Order (referred to in the reg) which prohibited the removal of asbestos that is not fixed has been mostly incorporated into this part.

Note: these regulations do NOT apply to domestic premises unless they become workplaces.

The Regulations cover asbestos in the following broad areas:

  • in situ asbestos, fixed or installed in buildings, structures, ships and plant;
  • prohibitions under the DG Order, and exclusions;
  • demolition and refurbishment of buildings, structures, ships and plant with in situ asbestos;
  • asbestos processes which include asbestos removal, handling and manufacture of articles containing asbestos, processes, resulting in airborne asbestos in excess of one half the exposure standard, maintenance of plant used in any asbestos processes and laundering of asbestos contaminated personal protective equipment.

The sections of the Regulations are as follows:

  • Division 1 - Introductory matters
  • Division 2 - General Requirements -This is an important section which details the duties of occupiers and employers.
  • Division 3 - Prohibitions under the OHS Act, 2004
  • Division 4 - Prohibitions under the Dangerous Goods Act, 1985
  • Division 5 - Asbestos in the workplace ("In situ") This part includes the duties of employers
  • Division 6 - Demolition and refurbishment where asbestos is present
  • Division 7 - Removal of asbestos
  • Division 8 - Activities involving asbestos

Below is a summary only - and not all sections of the regulations have been summarised, only those most important to workers in workplaces where there might be asbestos. Always ensure that you have checked the full text of the regulations before taking any action. The full text of the regulations can be viewed and downloaded from the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website -  click on Victorian Law Today, then on Statutory Rules, and then on "O" to find the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

Definitions

  1. Friable means, when dry -
    1. may be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure; or
    2. as a result of a work process becomes such that it may be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to powder by hand pressure
  2. Non-friable is when the asbestos or the asbestos-containing material is in a state that is NOT friable.

Division 1 - Introductory matters

206 This part does not apply to construction or demolition material -

(a) produced in accordance with an auditable process, determined by the Authority, to verify that asbestos-containing material has been removed from that material; and

(b) of which less than 0·001% is asbestos-containing material measured using a method determined by the Authority.

207 Independent person 
This is very important as it is necessary that a person carrying out certain functions is truly independent of the person contracting the work (eg the asbestos removalist; the person who commissioned the work), does not have a conflict of interest, AND has the requisite knowledge, skills and experience.

208 Asbestos-contaminated dust 
For the purpose of this Part, if there is uncertainty (based on reasonable grounds) as to whether dust is contaminated with asbestos a person must—

(a) assume the dust is contaminated with asbestos; or
(b) arrange for analysis of a sample to be undertaken.

Division 2 - General Requirements

209 Control risk of exposure - person who manages or controls workplace 
A person who manages or controls a workplace must -

  • eliminate, or where this is not reasonably practicable, must reduce the exposure of persons at the workplace to airborne asbestos fibres so far as is reasonably practicable
  • ensure that a person at the workplace is not exposed to an atmospheric concentration of asbestos fibres above the exposure standard
  • ensure that a determination of an employee's exposure to airborne asbestos fibres is carried out if there is uncertainty (based on reasonable grounds) as to whether the exposure standard has been exceeded
  • ensure that copies of results of atmospheric monitoring are accessible to an employer at the workplace

Note: The exposure standard for all forms of asbestos is 0·1 f/ml (fibres per millilitre) calculated over an 8 hour working day and measured over a minimum period of 4 hours in accordance with the Membrane Filter Method or in accordance with a method as determined by the Authority.

210 - 211 Control risk of exposure - employer or self-employed person

An employer or self-employed person must has the same duties as listed above, but with respect to airborne asbestos fibres arising out of the 'undertaking of the employer' - that is, his business.

212 Results of atmospheric monitoring 
An employer must ensure that copies of results of atmospheric monitoring are accessible to the health and safety representative of any affected designated work group and to affected employees.

213 Analysis by approved asbestos laboratory 
If an analysis of any sample is required under this Part, the analysis must be undertaken by an approved laboratory, and reported in accordance with the requirements of NATA or the scheme under which the lab was approved.

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Division 3 - Prohibitions under the OHS Act, 2004

The following are prohibited:

  • 214: removal of asbestos, except by a licensed asbestos removalist or an employee of the removalist (or in certain limited circumstances as detailed in Division 7 OR if the removal is for sampling and identification or removal of asbestos encountered while undertaking non-asbestos mining/extraction of stone - this is new)
  • 215: the removal of asbestos-contaminated protective clothing from workplaces unless it is:
    • disposed of as soon as reasonably practicable; and
    • in a manner that eliminates airborne asbestos fibres; and
    • at premises licensed by EPA to dispose of asbestos waste, or is sent to a laundry equipped to launder clothing contaminated with asbestos
  • 216: the use of
    • certain tools or instruments unless airborne fibre levels are less than 0.01f/ml*: brooms; brushes (except when used for sealing); high pressure water jets, power tools or other similar instruments cannot be used on asbestos-containing material except in certain well-controlled areas or if the tools are enclosed
      * this is new
    • compressed air or other compressed gases on asbestos except in enclosed areas; or within 6 metres of an activity involving asbestos (unless this does not result in airborne asbestos fibres of more than half the exposure standard)

Division 4 - Prohibitions under the Dangerous Goods Act 1985

(218 - 224) These further prohibitions apply to ALL forms of asbestos:

  • the manufacture of asbestos-containing material
  • the supply of asbestos
  • the storage of asbestos (does not apply in certain limited circumstances)
  • transport of asbestos (does not apply to transport for disposal or laundering)
  • the sale of asbestos
  • the use of asbestos
  • the re-use, installation and replacement of asbestos. 

Note there are certain exclusions (reg 217), such as scientific analysis or sampling and also exemptions to storage and transport  - so check the full text of Part 4.4 of the regulations.

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Division 5 - Asbestos in Workplaces (In Situ)

This Division now includes all types of asbestos.

Subdivision 2: Duties of persons who manage or control workplaces (226-232)

Persons who manage or control workplaces must:

  • identify asbestos at the workplace - the type of asbestos, its location, its condition, whether it is likely to sustain damage or deterioration;
  • If unsure whether there is asbestos present, or if areas are inaccessible, deem that these areas DO contain asbestos, or arrange for analysis of a sample;
  • ensure the presence and location is indicated - if practicable, label the asbestos. ;
  • record this information, including the date of each identification of the asbestos, in a register which must contain certain information, and which must be kept current (particularly if there are any changes) and in any case reviewed every 5 years;
  • provide a copy of the register to:
    • any employer/self-employed person whose business is located at the workplace; and
    • an asbestos license holder engaged to do asbestos removal work; and
    • a person who is required to obtain a copy under reg 305, and requests it; and
    • if requested, to an employer/self-employed person who intends to occupy the workplace.
  • inform any person working at the workplace who may have been exposed to asbestos fibres of the register and provide access to it
  • if relinquishing management or control provide it to the person assuming management or control

Control of risk and review of risk control measures

Persons who manage or control workplaces must:

  • ensure that any risk from asbestos is eliminated, so far as is practicable, by removing the asbestos. If this is not reasonably practicable, then the asbestos must be enclosed. If there is still a risk then the asbestos must be sealed.
  • review and, if necessary, revise the measures taken to control the risk:
    • before any changes to the workplace, building, plant, etc or a system of work that may disturb the asbestos; or
    • after any incident notifiable under Part 5 of the Act; or
    • or if for any other reason the risk control measures do not adequately control the risks.

Subdivision 3: Duties of employer

There are many things that an employer is required to do in order to ensure that workers' health is not put at risk from exposure to asbestos.

233 Identification of asbestos

 The employer must:

  • obtain copy of the asbestos register from the person who manages or controls the workplace; and
  • identify all asbestos, including asbestos-containing material, that is under the management or control of the employer. If unsure whether there is asbestos present, or if areas are inaccessible, deem that these areas DO contain asbestos, or arrange for analysis of a sample;
  • in relation to all asbestos identified, the employer must determine: the type of asbestos/asbestos-containing material; its likely source; whether it is friable or non-friable; its condition, whether it is likely to sustain damage or deterioration; and any activities likely to be carried out at the workplace likely to damage or disturb any asbestos in the workplace;
  • ensure that the presence and location of the asbestos are clearly indicated and if practicable, labelled

234 Information about the risks

If the employer identifies that a risk associated with any asbestos in the workplace (this may include asbestos-contaminated dust or asbestos in soil) or as the result of activities of the employer, the employer must inform the person who manages or controls that workplace.

235 - 237 Employer's asbestos register
The employer must record in an employer's register the results of any identification of asbestos (see above). The register must:

  • contain all the information about the identified asbestos; details of inaccessible areas; the date of the identification; a copy of the register done by the person with control and management of the workplace; and information on activities that may give rise to a risk.
  • be revised to keep it current and include any changes in the condition of the asbestos and any removal, enclosure or sealing
  • be reviewed and, if necessary, revised if an OHS rep requests it and in any case, at least every five years
  • be accessible to any employee
  • be provided to:
    • the OHS rep of an affected DWG;
    • any licensed asbestos removalist engaged to do removal work;
    • a person who is required to provide access to others who requests it
  • inform any person engaged to do work at the workplace that it involves the risk of exposure to asbestos, of the employer's register, and provide access to it. If requested, provide a copy.

238 - 239 Control and review of risk
The employer, with respect to asbestos of which the employer has management and control, must, so far as is reasonably practicable:

  • eliminate any risk associated with asbestos by removing the asbestos-containing material (see Division 7 - Removal of Asbestos)
    Note: As well as consulting with the OHS rep and any affected employees (as per the Act), an employer must, before any asbestos removal work commences, also inform employees in the immediate and adjacent areas of the workplace of the proposed removal work.
  • if this is not reasonably practicable, reducing the risk by enclosing the asbestos
  • if a risk remains, then the risk must be reduced by sealing the asbestos
  • review and, if necessary, revise the measures taken to control the risk:
    • before any changes to the workplace, building, plant, etc or a system of work that may disturb the asbestos; or
    • after any incident notifiable under Part 5 of the Act; or
    • or if for any other reason the risk control measures do not adequately control the risks; or
    • after receiving a request from an OHS rep (on reasonable grounds).

Division 6 - Demolition and refurbishment where asbestos is present

(240 - 248) Persons who manage or control workplaces have duties if there is to be any demolition or refurbishment. These duties apply to all types of asbestos and also apply to workplaces and domestic premises. These include:

  • a review of their and the employer's asbestos registers, which must be revised if inadequate having regard to the proposed demolition or refurbishment;
  • if an employer/self-employed person (SEP) is doing the demolition/refurbishment - to obtain copies of registers
  • further identification of any possible asbestos;
  • identification and removal of asbestos before demolition and refurbishment;
  • if there is no register, then demolition or refurbishment work cannot begin until the employer/SEP has determined whether asbestos is present. If it is present, then the employer/SEP must inform the person with management or control
  • set requirements for removal work (only by a licenced removalist UNLESS it is a removal permitted under 'Limited removal without a licence'); and
  • 247 - 248: procedures in an "emergency" - see the regulations for details. WorkSafe must be notified emergency situations.

Division 7 - Removal of asbestos

This division applies to removal work (including in a domestic premise that becomes a workplace), but NOT to those activities covered in Division 8. There are three types of removal work:

  1. Limited removal (without a licence)
  2. Class A removal (of friable asbestos or asbestos-contaminated dust)
  3. Class B removal (of non-friable asbestos, or asbestos contaminated dust associated with or derived from the removal of non-friable asbestos)

Subdivision 2 Limited asbestos removal work (250 - 263)
This subdivision allows small scale removal work by employers or self-employed persons to be undertaken without a licence being issued. The conditions under which this is allowed are:

  1. the asbestos-containing material must be non-friable; and
  2. the area to be removed is less than 10 square metres in total; and
  3. the total time over which the removal work is performed in any period of 7 days does not exceed 1 hour.

Limited removal of asbestos-contaminated dust if allowed if:

  1. the removal does not exceed 10 minutes in total; and
  2. the total time over which the removal work is performed in any period of 7 days does not exceed 1 hour; or
  3. if an independent person has determined that airborne asbestos fibre levels are likely to be less than one half of the exposure standard during the removal. 

NOTE: the above time limitations do not apply if the employer/SEP is a licensed asbestos removalist.

If an employer and/or self-employed person does undertake unlicensed removal work, they must comply with the following duties:

  • Training: must make and retain a record of any training of each person engaged in the work;
  • if self-employed must be informed, instructed and trained so that others are not exposed to risks from the removal work. The self-employed person must make a record of his/her training and retain it;
  • Register: must, before any unlicensed removal work, obtain a copy of the asbestos register/employer's asbestos register UNLESS the removal work is to be performed at domestic premises;
  • PPE: must provide appropriate and properly fitted personal protective clothing and respiratory protective equipment to those performing the work;
  • Signs and barricades: must use appropriate signs and barricades to indicate the area where the work is being performed;
  • Decontamination: must provide whatever facilities are necessary for the decontamination of the work area, tools and equipment and for personal decontamination. Equipment/PPE must be decontaminated before it is removed from the area or placed in a sealed container;
  • Elimination of fibres: must ensure that the removal work is performed in a manner that eliminates the release of airborne fibres AND prevents contamination of adjacent areas;
  • Waste: must ensure that asbestos waste is contained, the exterior of the container decontaminted, and disposed of as soon as reasonably possible and in an appropriate manner at a number of types of types of premises (EPA nominated);
  • Laundering: must provide for the proper laundering of any clothing and equipment that is not disposed of at a laundry equipped to launder asbestos-contaminated clothing;
  • Medical examinations:
    • must arrange for appropriate medical examinations by a registered medical practitioner for each employee if there is a risk of exposure to airborne asbestos fibres above one half of the exposure standard - without taking into account respiratory PPE.
    • must provide medical examinations before the employee commences work; at intervals of not more than 2 years; and within 30 days of ceasing asbestos removal work.
    • this duty extends to independent contractors
    • must retain summary of results for 30 years

Subdivision 3 - Class A and Class B asbestos removal work (264 - 283)
Only removalists (and their employees - with one exception) licensed by WorkSafe, are permitted to remove asbestos from workplaces (apart from Limited removal - see above).  There are two types of licences: 

  1. Class A: licensed to removed both friable and non-friable asbestos and asbestos containing material
  2. Class B: licensed to remove non-friable asbestos only or asbestos contaminated dust associated with or derived from the removal of non-friable asbestos (ie, clean up after their own job)

The regulations specify a number of duties in relation to licenced removalists. These include duties in relation to:

  • appointing asbestos removal supervisors
  • their employees - providing information (including to job applicants and independent contractors), training, regular medical examinations, protective clothing and equipment, decontamination facilities, laundering, etc;
  • obtaining registers
  • an asbestos control plan - which must be made available to the employees and their OHS reps, any employer, and anyone doing work at the workplace (Note: Schedule 12 of the regulations set out the information required to be included in an asbestos control plan);
  • elimination of airborne asbestos fibres
  • monitoring the airborne asbestos fibres - and duties in relation to what to do when fibres get to a certain level;
  • signs & barricades;
  • waste containment;
  • disposal of asbestos; and more

The requirements in this subdivision apply to all licensed removalists: there are additional duties when the removal involves friable asbestos,under Subdivision 4.

WorkSafe issues licences to companies wishing to undertake asbestos removal work. The Victorian Trades Hall Council has a list of preferred asbestos removalists.

Subdivision 4 - Additional duties - Class A asbestos removal work (284 - 290)
Because Class A removalists are removing friable, and therefore extremely hazardous asbestos, and larger amounts of dust, the regulations have additional requirements including:

  • specific measures to control risk - namely to enclose the area where the Class A removal work is performed; smoke-testing enclosures; using a wet method for removal. 
  • carrying out para-occupational air-monitoring before commencing the removal work and making the results available to employees at the workplace,
  • using glove bags for small removal jobs
  • requirements at the end of removal work.

Subdivision 5 - Duties of person who commissioned asbestos removal work (291 - 297)
This subdivision applies to a person who commissions Class A or Class B removal work.

The duties are:

  • for Class A removal work: arrange paraoccupational air monitoring before removal work if it is to be performed indoors or outdoors and create a risk; analyse the sample and make the results available to the licence holder; and on completion to verify that airborne fibre level is less than 0.01 f/ml
  • at the completion of Class A or Class B removal work, arrange for an independent person to to do an inspection to ensure there is no visible asbestos residue
  • provide copies of reports to licence holder
  • obtain a 'clearance certificate' from an independent person on completion of the work


Subdivision 6 - Notice procedures (298 - 299)

An asbestos removal licence holder must notify the Authority in writing (now can be done online) of all removal work:

  • 24 hours  prior to the job commencing for removal jobs involving removal of 10 square metres or less of non-friable asbestos; or
  • in any other case, at least 5 days prior to the job commencing (ie for removal jobs involving removal of more than 10 square metres)
  • except in an "unexpected situation"

Note: Schedule 13 of the regulations set out the information required to be included in a notice of asbestos removal work.

Subdivision 7 - Duties to inform (300 - 301)

  • An employer must, before removal work commences, inform all employees in the immediate and adjacent areas of the proposed work removal;
  • An employer or self-employed person who is commissioned to perform limited removal work must inform the person who commissioned the work
  • A person who commissions any asbestos removal work (ie licensed and limited removal work) must inform all employers and other persons occupying premises in the immediate and adjacent areas to where the work will take place.
  • An employer who has been informed of such removal work, must, before work commences, inform employee in the immediate and adjacent areas
  • NOTE: this includes occupiers of domestic premises

Division 8 - Activities involving asbestos

This division applies to a number of activities involving asbestos that are carried out in a workplace, and places duties on the employer.  There are potentially many situations in many workplaces where this part of the regulations applies. The activities are listed at reg 302 and are:

  1. the handling, including for removal or transport for disposal, of asbestos-containing aircraft and automotive components;
  2. the laundering of asbestos contaminated clothing;
  3. research involving asbestos;
  4. sampling or analysis involving suspected asbestos;
  5. the transport of asbestos waste for disposal;
  6. working at a site licensed by the Environment Protection Authority to dispose of or accept asbestos waste;
  7. the enclosing or sealing of asbestos;
  8. hand drilling and cutting of asbestos-containing material;
  9. maintenance of dust extraction equipment, contaminated with asbestos;
  10. processing of construction and demolition material in accordance with the method determined by the Authority;
  11. any other activity (other than asbestos removal work under Division 7) that is likely to produce airborne asbestos fibres in excess of one half of the asbestos exposure standard; 
  12. any other activity determined by the Authority for the purposes of this Division.

An employer must:

  • (303) identify whether an asbestos-related activity is being carried out
  • (304) if there is uncertainty, then assume that asbestos is present or arrange for a sample to be taken
  • (305) obtain a copy of the asbestos register
  • (306) ensure that asbestos-related activities are carried out in a manner that eliminates so far as is reasonably practicable the release of airborne asbestos fibres
  • (307) ensure that any risk associated with the activity is eliminated, or if not reasonably practicable, reduced by isolation or using engineering controls, or a combination of these
  • (307) if a risk still remains, used administrative controls to reduce the risk
  • (307) if a risk still remains, provide properly fitted personal protective clothing and equipment
  • (308) review and, if necessary, revise the measures taken to control the risk:
    • before an alteration is made to the systems of work related to the activity that is likely to increase the risk to health or safety; or
    • after any incident notifiable under Part 5 of the Act; or
    • or if for any other reason the risk control measures do not adequately control the risks; or
    • after receiving a request from an OHS rep (on reasonable grounds)
  • (309 & 310) separate and sign the work area and keep it clean
  • (311 & 312) arrange for medical examinations if there is a risk of exposure to airborne asbestos fibres above one half of the asbestos exposure standard; obtain a summary, keep a copy for 30 years
  • (311 & 312) ensure that atmospheric monitoring is provided if there is uncertainty and make these results available to the HSR and to affected employees
  • (314) provide decontamination facilities
  • (315 & 316) contain and dispose of waste
  • (317) launder clothing 
  • (318) provide information to job applicants
  • (319) provide training and keep a record for as long as applicable

 See also:

Last amended September 2017