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Is asbestos always dangerous?

27 July 2018

As a property manager, you get asked all sorts of questions about asbestos, but often don’t know the answers.

To help you out, property compliance and valuation experts, BIV Reports, have answered some of your most common questions to help you better assist your clients.

What is friable and non-friable asbestos?

Friable asbestos is material that is in a powder form, or that can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder by hand when dry. 

Non-friable asbestos is used to describe materials containing asbestos fibres that cannot be disintegrated, including material containing asbestos fibres reinforced with a bonding compound.

Is asbestos in a property I manage dangerous?

Many homes built before 1990 contain Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM). Asbestos is not dangerous when it is in a bonded condition, such as fibro, as long as it is painted, sealed and in good condition. 

When is asbestos dangerous?

Asbestos is dangerous when it’s friable, damaged or broken. When cutting, drilling, grinding or creating dust, asbestos fibres can become airborne. If inhaled, the fibres can imbed in your lungs.

Do all asbestos items need to be removed?

The only items that need to be removed are broken or friable ACM.

Property owners are not required to remove ACM, but there is a requirement that asbestos items be made safe.

Who do I engage to remove asbestos from a property I manage?

If the amount to be removed is less than 10m2 and the material is non-friable, a licenced removalist is not required. 

If the amount is greater than 10m2 and the material is non-friable, a Class B Asbestos Removalist Licence is required. 

A Class A Asbestos Removalist Licence is required to remove any amount of friable asbestos and a person holding this licence can remove any form and amount of asbestos. 

Can contractors insist on the removal of ACM before commencing work?

No, they cannot insist on its removal. However, they can refuse to do the work in line with their own risk management strategies. 

How can I ensure asbestos at a property I manage does not become dangerous?

You can ask a professional to identify where asbestos may be located in the property and in which building materials, the condition of the asbestos and how it should be dealt.

How can I collect samples for testing, if required?

We do not recommend taking a sample yourself if it can be avoided, however in some circumstances it may be required. If you do need to take a sample, you can refer to Appendix A of Safe Work Australia's How to manage and control asbestos in the workplace Code of Practice.

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