Revised views on WorkSafe's approved code of practice - Management and removal of asbestos

We have revised our view of what good practice looks like with regard to sections 6.4, 16.5 and 16.6 of WorkSafe's 'Management and removal of asbestos' approved code of practice (ACOP). The next version of the ACOP will include the revisions outlined below.

Revised view on when asbestos should be considered friable

We have revised our view of when asbestos should be considered friable with regard to section 6.4 ACM condition of WorkSafe's ACOP: Management and removal of asbestos
 
Section 6.4 defines friable and non-friable in relation to the condition of the asbestos containing material before work is conducted on it. It goes further, saying that conducting work on asbestos or ACM does not change its friability state.

However, in relation to the removal of textured ceilings or vinyl floors, in at least some cases, this is not correct, as conducting work on the ACM does change its state from non-friable to friable.
 
Our revised view is that before commencing work on asbestos or ACM that in its current state is non-friable, the building owner should discuss with the surveyor or licenced asbestos assessor whether or not the removal work is likely to change the state of the asbestos or ACM to become friable. Once this is confirmed it will enable the building owner to confirm whether or not the removal work must be carried out by a Class A or Class B asbestos removalist.

Revised view on health monitoring

We have revised our view of what good practice looks like with regard to sections 16.5 and 16.6 of WorkSafe's ACOP: Management and removal of asbestos.

These two sections of the ACOP describe the components of health monitoring and when health monitoring of workers should occur.

What health monitoring must include

Unless a medical practitioner recommends another type of health monitoring, the health monitoring must include:

  • A physical examination

This should emphasise the respiratory system, and include a lung function test (FEV1 and FVC).

Note: A chest x-ray (PA and lateral) is no longer required unless a specialist recommends it.

  • Consideration of:
    • the worker’s demographics, and
    • their medical and occupational history, and
    • records of the worker’s personal exposure to asbestos, for example:
      • relevant risk assessment reports
      • air monitoring results
      • investigation reports, if the airborne contamination standard for asbestos was exceeded.

The ACOP calls this health monitoring a ‘full asbestos medical’.

How often a full asbestos medical is required

A full asbestos medical should be performed every 2 years from when work with asbestos commences, regardless of when the worker started work with their current PCBU.

Note: this amended schedule replaces Table 7 in Section 16.6.1 of the ACOP, which required a full asbestos medical at different intervals.