Asbestos exposure is a dangerous thing. It impacts the lungs and respiratory system in more ways than one and there’s extensive evidence on this topic. Asbestos in itself isn’t dangerous when the structure remains intact. However, it becomes deadly when the asbestos fibres spread freely in the air. That’s why it’s crucial to have an asbestos management plan in place regardless of the kind of property.

Here we’ll understand the various facets of an asbestos management plan that highlight the role of asbestos testing. This eventually helps in keeping the workplace free of asbestos.

What is an asbestos management plan?

An asbestos management plan is a document that outlines how asbestos will be managed in a property. It keeps the log of asbestos levels in the property and records the plan to keep the asbestos in control or remove it altogether.

The plan records the activities needed to prevent the exposure of people to asbestos.

This is a central document that contains all the information you need for asbestos testing. This document is what enables you to keep asbestos exposure under control.

Here’s a brief overview of the contents of an asbestos management plan:

  • The people who are in charge of asbestos management
  • Asbestos register that records the ACMs (asbestos-containing materials) in the building
  • Details of asbestos survey done on the property
  • Details of scheduled and previous work done that may have released ACMs

Why is an asbestos management plan needed?

One thing to understand about the asbestos management plan is that it’s not a one-time document. It’s a continually updated register that brings every single activity associated with asbestos to the fore.

It helps all the stakeholders involved in the management of asbestos to come up with preventive measures. Asbestos removal experts rely on this document to keep the property asbestos-free. It serves as a guiding light to determine the extent of exposure and how to eliminate them.

Another important thing to mention here is the fact that the records are better kept electronically. The data credibility is much higher when the records are computerised. Also, the data log remains secure if they are maintained in an Excel sheet.

When do you need an asbestos management plan?

The government of Australia started phasing out ACMs in the 80s itself. But a full-fledged ban came in 2003. This means all the properties built in the country before 2003 contain ACMs. These properties are mandated to carry out regular asbestos surveys to weed out the problem.

And here’s where the need for an asbestos management plan becomes so critical. The Work Health And Safety Act 2011 mandates that regular asbestos assessments need to be carried out in pre-2003 buildings.

A new survey would prove fruitful only if there were relevant data from the previous survey. Since the asbestos management plan contains all the previous survey details, the new survey tells you about the progress made, if any.

The survey data and the steps taken in asbestos removal help you stay compliant with all rules and regulations.

Details of asbestos management plan

The asbestos regulation needs are different for different properties. It all depends on the size of the building, the construction date, and the level of ACMs.

Let’s take a look at the details of asbestos management in different kinds of properties:

  1. Asbestos management in commercial buildings

Commercial sites come under heavy scrutiny by the authorities as they are the drivers of economic activity. The footfall is much higher in these buildings and so are the maintenance needs.

The duties of maintaining the asbestos register lie with the building manager. The latter has to maintain the plan in accordance with the guidelines issued in the Work Health and Safety (General) Regulations, 2022.

Here are the important guidelines:

  • Maintenance of a register and a management plan identifying the type, condition, and location of asbestos.
  • Licence (Class A type) required for removing friable asbestos
  • Licence (Class A or B type) needed for removing non-friable asbestos
  1. Asbestos management in schools and universities

Schools and universities need regular reviews of asbestos as children are more vulnerable to the dust. Similar principles apply to school and university buildings when it comes to maintaining the asbestos management plan.

  1. Asbestos management in residential buildings

There are several residential buildings in the country with latent asbestos. Residential buildings may not be subjected to such stringent norms as seen in commercial buildings. However periodic asbestos assessments of these buildings are still important.

Australian laws say that asbestos disclosure is mandatory for residential buildings that were constructed before 1990. Most residential buildings in the country contain asbestos (1 in 3 homes as per an estimate). Therefore, an asbestos management plan for residential buildings is a necessity.

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