Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA)

SafeWork SA is responsible for the administration of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) (WHS Act) and the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA) (WHS Regulations). This legislation specifically relates to workplaces.

A workplace is defined in the WHS Act as ‘a place where work is carried out for a business or undertaking and includes any place where a worker goes, or is likely to be, while at work’.

A workplace includes residential premises (or part of) while work is being undertaken by a person conducting a business or undertaking at the premises.

Chapter 8 of the WHS Regulations outlines the specific requirements relating to the management and control of asbestos at workplaces, including:

  • prohibitions and authorised conduct
  • general duty
  • management of asbestos and associated risks
  • management of naturally occurring asbestos
  • asbestos at the workplace
  • demolition and refurbishment
  • asbestos removal work
  • asbestos-related work
  • licensing of asbestos removalists and asbestos assessors.

Codes of Practice

There are two Codes of Practice that provide practical information and guidance on how to meet the requirements of the regulations:

Note: As the model code has application in other states and territories, page 19 of the Code of Practice - How to Safely Remove Asbestos states that air monitoring is not required when removing more than 10m2 of non-friable asbestos. However, in South Australia air monitoring is required for both Class A and Class B asbestos removal work.

These Codes of Practice apply to all duty holders including:

  • the licensed asbestos removalist
  • the person who commissioned the asbestos removal work
  • the person with management and control of the workplace.

The Codes are not mandatory but provide information to help workplaces achieve safe systems of work. If a workplace chooses not to follow a model Code of Practice they must have guidelines and safe work practices to an equal or better standard than is contained in the Code.

Environment Protection Act 1993

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) administers the Environment Protection Act 1993. In relation to asbestos the EPA is responsible for regulation of asbestos transportation and end disposal of asbestos waste, including:

Licensed storage facilities and dumps

Asbestos waste must be taken to a licensed transfer station or waste depot.

Producer of listed waste licences

Anyone who conducts a business that produces listed waste must have a licence. Listed waste includes waste that may have a significant environmental impact, such as asbestos materials, chemical and medical waste.

Transporter licences

An Environment Protection Authority (EPA) licence is required for prescribed activity 3(5) "Waste transport business (category A)" when transporting asbestos for fee or reward (commercial transport). This applies to both friable and non-friable asbestos.

The domestic transport of asbestos does not require a licence.

Illegal dumping

Illegal dumping is the disposal of waste on public or private land or into water without a licence, permit or approval from the relevant authority such as the EPA or local council.

There are significant penalties for those caught illegally dumping waste. For individuals, penalties can be as high as $500,000 or four years imprisonment. For a corporate body the penalty can be as high as $2 million.

Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956

The Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 prohibits the importation of asbestos into Australia. Despite this, goods containing asbestos are still being intercepted by the authorities at the Australian border or found on building sites. Persons conducting a business or undertaking, and members of the community, need to be aware of the risk of importing goods or materials that contain asbestos and what they need to do if they inadvertently import asbestos containing materials.

The Australian Border Force website publishes information on the importation of asbestos.

Statutes Amendment (Real Estate Industry Reform) Act 2008

The Statutes Amendment (Real Estate Industry Reform) Act 2007 contains provisions that require real estate agents to provide a buyer's information notice to all prospective purchasers to ensure that they think about whether there are any features of the property that may adversely affect the value, enjoyment or safety of the land (eg the presence of asbestos).

Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Regulations 2010

The Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Regulations 2010 contains specific provisions relating to asbestos in the workplace. These provisions are contained within Schedule 1—Contracts for sale of land or businesses—forms and relate to the following asbestos register provision under the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA).

428 - Transfer of asbestos register by person relinquishing management or control

A person with management or control of a workplace who plans to relinquish management or control must ensure (so far as is reasonably practicable) that the asbestos register is given to the person assuming management or control of the workplace.