Asbestos – is it lurking within your workplace?

Risk Matters - Autumn 2021

Asbestos is a fibrous, naturally occurring mineral that was once used extensively due to being lightweight and resistant to high temperatures, electricity, and chemical corrosion.

It was regularly used in building and construction materials, machinery, plumbing and electrical materials, plant and other equipment. However, when asbestos is broken or disturbed, its small fibres can become airborne where they are easily inhaled and swallowed. Once in the body, these fibres can irritate organ tissue and cause insidious diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

What should you be doing?

Due to the variety of applications and its often robust nature, materials containing asbestos still exist in our workplaces – and can present a hazard to the health of workers, contractors and members of the public.

All local governments have a duty of care under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 (WA), as well as the national codes of practice to ensure the following is in place:

  • An asbestos management plan to identify, assess and effectively control asbestos containing materials within the workplace, including all organisational owned properties and items within.
  • An asbestos register is developed and regularly reviewed to demonstrate all properties have been considered for asbestos containing material, regardless of age and associated risk.
  • Training: workers and others where identified, are trained in how to identify, assess, and effectively control asbestos containing materials within the workplace, and be informed of the associated health risks of being exposed to uncontrolled asbestos containing material.
  • Access: provide workers, contractors, and others with access to the asbestos register and associated risk assessments of the identified asbestos containing materials within the workplace.

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Where we’ve been

Before 2020 hit us with a curve ball, workplace mental health was already a significant issue for WA local governments. COVID-19 and the challenges of 2020 have compounded existing issues and the topics of mental health, stress management, and resilience are more pressing than ever for local government leaders, people, and risk managers.

Read More »

How can LGIS help?

Here at LGIS we provide a number of services to ensure local governments are equipped to not only comply with the legislative requirements for asbestos management but to ensure asbestos hazards can be effectively controlled.

Our specialist LGIS consultants can:

  • Develop an asbestos management plan.
  • Conduct in-depth property inspections to identify materials containing asbestos.
  • Complete risk assessments for all identified asbestos containing materials.
  • Develop an asbestos register.
  • Train workers in asbestos awareness and identification as it applies to the local government industry.
  • Provide notification stickers to be affixed to asbestos containing material to alert workers, contractors and others of the potential hazard.

If you have chosen to be part of the Regional Risk Coordinator Program, asbestos services can be included. Please contact your regional risk coordinator for more information regarding asbestos management and controls. Otherwise, please contact our dedicated team member Katherine Kempin on 0409 770 789 or email on [email protected].

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