A new free resource for the commercial and non-residential property sector.

It’s a sad fact of the Australian building sector that asbestos and asbestos containing materials (ACMs) are often found in existing buildings. There are strict regulations in place for managing ACMs, but a new management resource released this year makes compliance much easier and provides an excellent training resource as well.

Preventing exposure to asbestos fibres is the most effective means of preventing asbestos-related diseases. With 13 Australians dying every week from asbestos-related diseases, 12 from malignant mesothelioma, and with another 13 diagnosed with this incurable cancer, it’s vital that all those working in the commercial and non-residential property sector ensure compliance with regulations to minimise exposure of workers, tradespeople and bystanders.

ACMs themselves can be comparatively safe if left undisturbed in good condition. But it if they are disturbed by tools or processes such as water blasting, a high concentration of fibres can be released, endangering those who are exposed.

To address the need for improved, safer management of asbestos and ACM in commercial and non-residential property settings, the national Asbestos Awareness Campaign has developed a free, user-friendly asbestos management resource package to help improve regulatory compliance across the sector.

The Asbestos Management Handbook for Commercial and Non-residential Properties provides property owners, managers, developers and workers with essential, practical, user-friendly guidelines and tools to manage ACMs in line with requirements. The comprehensive Handbook, Asbestos Management Templates and Fact Sheets can be downloaded from asbestosawareness.com.au/commercial-properties/commercial-downloads/.

Designed for a broad audience including property owners, agents, managers, builders, contractors, subcontractors, tradespeople and workers, the Asbestos Management Handbook, Templates and Fact Sheets were developed in consultation with stakeholders from the building, property management and government sectors to improve compliance in the commercial and non-residential property sector.

The Handbook details the roles and responsibilities for the management of asbestos and ACMs, provides examples of best practice and a comprehensive list and images to demonstrate ACMs commonly found in commercial and non-residential properties. Importantly, the Handbook provides practical guidance on the steps required to adhere to regulations including how to develop and manage an Asbestos Management Plan, an Asbestos Register and the training requirements for workers. It defines Asbestos Inspections, Surveys, Risk Assessments and the steps required when asbestos removal is in progress.

John Batty, Managing Consultant, Occupational Hygiene and Hazardous Materials Management specialist for Prensa welcomed the announcement saying, “While there are strict requirements for the management, control and removal of asbestos or ACMs, one of the dominant challenges affecting compliance has been the absence of user-friendly resources for people unfamiliar with technical information, with some finding the regulations rather extensive and complex to follow and implement.”

Batty particularly commended the ease of use of the handbook and its accompanying fact sheets, templates and training materials. “We know that the greater the exposure to asbestos fibres, the greater the risk of developing life-threatening asbestos-related diseases. In developing this essential, user-friendly information package making the requirements easily accessible, the new Handbook, featuring step-by-step procedures complemented by Fact Sheets and Templates, is a long-awaited vital resource that will help improve compliance in the sector, resulting in improved safe work management procedures and the prevention of avoidable exposure to asbestos fibres by workers and bystanders,” Mr Batty said.

The handbook package includes Fact Sheets on Roles and Responsibilities for Management of Asbestos and ACMs, the procedures for Unexpected Asbestos Finds or Incidents, and the step-by-step application of Personal Protective and Respiratory Equipment – all valuable resources when training workers on asbestos safe work management procedures.

It is complemented by digital promotional tools for websites, social media and posters for on-site promotion.

For more on asbestos education, visit asbestosawareness.com.au.