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Commonwealth asbestos regulations change for accommodation operators

11 March, 2014

Commonwealth asbestos legislation has now been adopted by several states and territories, extending on the original ban of the use of all asbestos containing materials (ACM) Australia wide on 31 December 2003.

The Healthy Hotels Program provides advice for property operators in the fields of environmental health, textile maintenance and nutrition. Healthy Hotels Certification is utilised by over 4000 accommodation guest rooms and is available for products as well as maintenance service providers.

This legislation, which can be defined today as the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) (the Act) and the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (Cth) has been adopted by the states of Queensland, NSW, the ACT and the NT. The following codes of practise are approved under section 274 of the Act:

  • Code of Practice: How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace
  • Code of Practice: How to Safely Remove Asbestos

Healthy Hotels Program Environmental Advisor Dr Claire Bird of Octief, recommends operators across all categories review their property's position in view of the changes.

"The changes apply to all property operators who are currently managing or controlling a workplace constructed prior to 31 December 2013, within the states and territories which have adopted the federal policy."

Work Health & Safety Regulations 2011 state that operator responsibilities include ensuring asbestos at the workplace is identified, the location of asbestos is clearly indicated, all found asbestos is recorded in a register and an asbestos management plan is implemented where asbestos has been identified or likely to be there at times.

All asbestos samples taken must be analysed by a NATA Accredited laboratory and the asbestos register must be maintained with up to date information and must be readily accessible at the workplace.

According to the new legislation, the deadline for complying with the new asbestos register and management plan requirements was 1 January 2014.

Operators who believe they may be in breach of the requirements are encouraged to take action by speaking with an organisation specialising in environmental health.

For works conducted outside of the four adopting jurisdictions, state based legislation applies in addition to the Commonwealth legislation. In South Australia, the legislation is the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act (SA) 1986 along with the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 2010.

For Victoria, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Vic) 2004 and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (Vic) 2007 apply. Western Australia observes the Occupational Safety and Health Act (WA) 1984; and the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations (WA) 1996. And in Tasmania, the Workplace Health and Safety Act (Tas) 1995 and Workplace Health and Safety Regulations (Tas) 1998 apply.

Works conducted in South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, are also subject to the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission's (NOHSC) Code of Practice for the Management and Control of Asbestos in the Workplace [NOHSC: 2018 (2005)].