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Work Health and Safety Asbestos
JCU is committed to providing a safe workplace for staff, students and campus visitors. We recognise the need to protect people and the environment from potential hazards associated with asbestos containing materials, or ACMs.
JCU has an Asbestos Management and Control Policy in place which states the intent for asbestos management. In particular, the policy aims to reduce the amount of asbestos containing materials across JCU assets, and avoid taking on more assets with asbestos containing materials. JCU's Asbestos Management Procedure states the processes for managing asbestos at JCU.
Under these two documents the Estate Directorate maintains an Asbestos Management Plan (AMP) that lists projects related to asbestos at JCU, including:
- Priority removal works
- Air monitoring, and
- An asbestos survey schedule
JCU has an extensive register of assets that were built prior to 31 December 1989. Other assets built post-1989 where asbestos is likely to be present are also included on the register. The Asbestos Register is an electronic record maintained by the Estate Directorate and is available to all JCU employees: https://www.jcu.edu.au/estate-directorate/campus-maintenance/asbestos-register
For on-campus assets, current hard copies of the Asbestos Register are held at the contractor sign-in desks at the Estate Office (Building 57) and Security Office (Building 29) on the Townsville Campus. Remote assets have a copy of the relevant register at each location.
Electronic copies of the Asbestos Register or relevant parts of the Register are available on request to all staff and contractors from the JCU Asbestos Coordinator, Manager Asset Strategy and Maintenance, Estate Directorate.
Asbestos Risk Rating
Each confirmed instance of asbestos containing material (ACM) is assigned a risk level in the Asbestos Register. The risk assessment algorithm is a high level assessment used to determine relative priorities for management of ACM.
Risk ratings do not represent an assessment of exposure to asbestos. Where items of ACM are assigned risk ratings of Medium, High or Very High, a more detailed risk assessment is undertaken by an occupational hygienist to determine if immediate action is necessary to eliminate or minimise exposure to asbestos.
It should be noted that these ACM risk ratings only apply to normal use of the building and are not applicable to activities that are likely to actively disturb ACM e.g. maintenance, repair, refurbishment or demolition. Work involving asbestos materials are managed under the asbestos permit system.
Air monitoring for asbestos must be undertaken by a competent person using the membrane filter method [NOHSC:3003].
Where an item of ACM is assigned a risk ranking of High or Very High, a program of regular periodic air monitoring will be undertaken until the item is either removed or other action is taken to control the risk and the risk ranking is reviewed.
Asbestos Management Plan
The primary purpose of the Asbestos Management Plan (AMP) is to ensure that action is taken to implement this Procedure to adequately control the risk of exposure to asbestos. The AMP must also aim to progressively eliminate ACM from JCU controlled assets to minimise risk and reduce the burden of managing asbestos risk.
The AMP shall contain:
- Decisions and reasons for decisions about management of asbestos at JCU workplaces
- Measureable annual targets that can be reported on
- Budget for planned asbestos management work
- Clear responsibilities for delivery of all actions included in the AMP
- Plans for further identification of asbestos
- Planned removal works prioritised based on risk and clearly staged
- Timeframes for reinspection and condition assessment of ACM Program of air monitoring
Asbestos Warning Labels
JCU has commenced a project to label asbestos materials.
As far as is reasonably practicable, JCU will apply asbestos warning labels at the location of each item of ACM.
Specifications for the placement of labels can be found in the HSE-PRO-006 Asbestos Management Procedure (PDF, 693 KB) in the JCU Policy Library.
Where work is required on ACM, the preferred management option is to remove the ACM. Where removal of the ACM is not practicable, the risk of potential exposure to asbestos must be assessed and controlled.
With any work involving asbestos the priority is to minimise the risk of inhalation of respirable asbestos fibre by suppressing the release of airborne asbestos. Any work on ACM is to be undertaken by trained competent workers. In general, work on dry ACM should be avoided.
Work on asbestos must be separated from other work areas. Signs and barricades must be erected to delineate the asbestos work area and an alert notification (download the Asbestos Removal Notification Letter template (DOCX, 40 KB)) sent to persons that will be nearby asbestos works being undertaken.
Any work on ACM must be undertaken in accordance with Queensland Code of Practice How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace (2011) and How to Safely Remove Asbestos (2011).
Building or maintenance work on material containing asbestos is prohibited, unless a permit to work has been issued to the personnel involved.
The following roles within the Estate Directorate are authorised to issue an Asbestos Permit:
- Manager Asset Strategy and Maintenance
- Building Services Manager
- Supervisor Maintenance
- Manager, Cairns Operations
The Asbestos Permit to Work Template (PDF, 32 KB) must be completed together with a risk assessment / Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) (PDF, 190 KB) and be signed by the person(s) completing the work, prior to issue of an asbestos permit.
For the purpose of this Procedure, minor works are defined as work that has potential to disturb non-friable ACM but does not involve removal of ACM. This could include works that are conducted for maintenance and project activities.
Any work that has potential to disturb friable ACM is not considered Minor Works.
Minor works may include:
- Making penetrations in non-friable ACM
- Fixing items to or through non-friable ACM
- Pulling cables/wires through non-friable ACM conduit
- Painting (and preparation for painting) of non-friable ACM
- Polishing of asbestos vinyl flooring (JCU policy to not cut back ACM vinyl floors)
Minor works may be undertaken by a competent person (employee or contractor) provided a safe work method statement (SWMS) has been prepared for the task and an Asbestos Permit has been issued. An example Asbestos Minor Works SWMS Template is available here (PDF, 190 KB).
Minimum controls for minor works must include:
- Separation from other work areas
- Signage and barricades
- Respiratory protection
- Decontamination of plant and personnel
- Containment and disposal of waste
Closing out a permit for minor works must include a visual inspection of the work area by the Permit Issuer.
Demolition or Refurbishment
Prior to demolition or refurbishment work the Asbestos Register must be reviewed to determine if the register is adequate regarding the planned works. With the exception of basic structures, an asbestos register prepared from a management survey will not normally be adequate for demolition or refurbishment.
Unless the existing asbestos register is adequate, a pre-demolition asbestos survey must be undertaken for the entire area of the asset(s) affected by the planned demolition or refurbishment.
The asbestos register must be provided to the person who carries out the demolition or refurbishment prior to commencement.
For refurbishment projects, as far as is reasonably practicable, all asbestos likely to be disturbed during the renovation must be removed prior to commencement. Refurbishment projects should be seen as an opportunity to remove as much ACM as possible within the refurbishment work area(s), such removal be seen as an investment to reduce the future burden of managing ACM (health risk and financial cost). Asbestos containing materials must not be clad over or otherwise hidden during refurbishment works.
For any asbestos removal work, JCU will engage an external contractor who holds a current asbestos removal licence of the appropriate class recognised in the state of Queensland.
- The removalist must hold an A Class licence for removal of: Friable asbestos; or
- Asbestos contaminated dust or debris (ACD), unless that ACD is associated with removal of non-friable ACM or is only a minor contamination.
For removal of non-friable ACM and associated ACD, the removalist must hold an A or B class licence.
Works that meet the definition of asbestos work will have an occupational hygienist engaged. The hygienist will:
- Review the asbestos removal control plan
- Conduct air monitoring as required
- Perform a clearance inspection
Disposal of Asbestos Wastes
Asbestos is a regulated waste, specific disposal requirements apply, including:
- The waste is to be packaged in such a way to eliminate the release of asbestos fibres during transport, this may include:
- Sealing in double layer 0.2mm thick plastic (e.g. asbestos waste bags)
- Drums may be used to contain waste
- All waste is to be clearly marked as asbestos containing material
- Less than 250 kg of asbestos waste can be transported without a regulated waste licence. If more than 250 kg a contractor licensed for transport of hazardous waste must be used
- Transport the double bagged waste to a waste disposal site approved by the local council
- Obtain & retain certificates/receipts from the waste disposal site
- If you have any ACM that requires disposal contact the Estates Directorate Asbestos Coordinator (Manager Asset Strategy and Maintenance – Estate Directorate )
- How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace Code of Practice (Queensland) 2011
- How to Safely Remove Asbestos Code of Practice (Queensland) 2011