Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre that can cause lung diseases, including cancer. It was used widely in the construction industry during the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Since the mid 1970s the public was alerted to the dangers of asbestos and it was gradually phased out and replaced by alternative products, such as fibreglass.
Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause diseases. However, if in sound condition and left undisturbed, fibro products are not a significant health risk. Health problems usually occur when people are unaware of the hazards of working with fibro.
Council's Roles and Responsibilities
Concerns or complaints regarding the inappropriate handling of asbestos or asbestos containing material at non-work sites can be referred to Council for investigation on 6581 8111. Authorised Council officers can require work to rectify any unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
Council may also be contacted where material containing asbestos has been dumped or otherwise abandoned in a public place. In such circumstances where the persons responsible cannot be identified, Council may arrange for the material to be collected once it has been rendered safe to handle and disposed of at Council's waste disposal facility.
Generally where waste material containing asbestos is dumped or otherwise contained on private property, the material remains the responsibility of the property owner. Where a complaint is made to Council in respect to waste asbestos material on private property, Council regulatory officers may investigate the complaint and, where considered necessary, the property owner may be required to remove and safely dispose of the waste material.
Licensing Requirements for Asbestos Removal
A Bonded Asbestos Licence is required to remove, repair or disturb more than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos material such as fibro, corrugated cement sheeting and asbestos cement pipes.
A Friable Asbestos Licence is required to remove, repair or disturb any amount of friable asbestos, such as sprayed limpet, asbestos cloth, millboard and pipe lagging.
Licenses are issued under the NSW Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 (OHS Act 2000) and the NSW Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001 (OHS Regulation).
The WorkCover Authority of NSW issues both bonded asbestos and friable asbestos licenses. Licence application forms along with other information in respect to the demolition, health effects, legislation and working with asbestos are available on the WorkCover Authority of NSW Web Site.
Council's Requirements for Building Demolitions and Renovations containing Asbestos
Council may require a Development Application or other approvals in respect to building renovations and/or the demolition of structures. Where a Development Application is required and these structures contain asbestos material, Council may place general conditions on any Development Application advising the applicant of provisions contained in relevant Australian Standards, Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and Guidelines produced by the WorkCover Authority of NSW in relation to handling or working with asbestos.
Regulatory Measures to Ensure Compliance
Sites where demolition work and/or development works or other works are being carried out by either employees or by a self employed person or persons are places of work under the provisions of the NSW Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000. In situations where Council becomes aware of non compliance on work sites where asbestos material is being handled, Council's regulatory officers may advise the WorkCover Authority of NSW who are the appropriate authority in respect to regulating work practices on work sites.
Links to Additional Information
Fibro and Asbestos - a Practical Guide
NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water
Safely disposing of asbestos waste
Asbestos, Fibro and Demolition : Guide
Education campaign material from NSW Government, the ACTU and James Hardie
Asbestos Removal Contractors Association of New South Wales