Asbestos-containing materials were commonly used in buildings before the 1980s. As a general rule if your workplace was built or renovated:

  • before the mid-1980s - it is highly likely that it has asbestos-containing products
  • between the mid-1980s and 1990 - it is likely that it has asbestos-containing products
  • after 1990 - it is unlikely that it has asbestos-containing products.

If you are thinking of undertaking any repairs, renovation or demolition work in your workplace, and it was built or renovated prior to the late 1980s, please ensure that you are aware of the presence of asbestos.

Check the asbestos register and ensure it is up-to-date. This must be done before any demolition or refurbishment to a structure or plant (see regulation 448 of the WHS Regulations for more detail).

If there is no register then the structure or plant must be inspected for asbestos by a competent person. You can assume a material is asbestos or have a sample analysed (see regulation 451 and regulation 423(2) of the WHS Regulations).

If the asbestos containing material is in good condition it is best to leave it alone unless it is likely to be exposed and damaged. If it's in good condition and is left undisturbed, non-friable asbestos presents no known health risks.

Common locations where asbestos containing products can be present

External

  • Exterior Wall
  • Wall cladding
  • Electricity meter and fuse box
  • Moulded vents
  • Window and door mouldings, window rope and putty
  • Telecommunications pit
  • Asbestos in vehicles (brake linings)

Kitchen

  • Backing of vinyl floor tiles
  • Hot water insulation set into walls
  • Underlay sheeting for ceramic tiles
  • Cement sheet ceilings
  • Splashbacks

Plant & boiler room

  • Fire door (with an asbestos core)
  • Flues
  • Gaskets
  • Lagging around pipes
  • Plant and other machinery containing Asbestos Gaskets and/or Seals
  • Switchboard

Roof

  • Downpipes
  • Flue exhausts
  • Guttering
  • Lining under eaves
  • Loose roof insulation
  • Rainwater heads
  • Ridge tiles
  • Roof sheeting
  • Roof ventilators

Toilet & showeroom

  • Backing to tiles
  • Hot water insulation set into walls
  • Sheet walls
  • Shower lining