An asbestos audit is one of those necessary activities that every business must do in order to be compliant with the states workplace laws. In Victoria, this is the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and there are some potentially heavy fines for non-compliance.
Greenlight are an experienced and qualified asbestos auditing company and have supplied asbestos registers to schools, hospitals, local councils and industrial workplaces throughout Melbourne & Victoria. We also regularly supply asbestos registers to refurbishment or demolition contractors and project managers prior to works (these are called Division 6 Audits).
All you could ever want to know about asbestos auditing is detailed below. If you would rather ask us some questions, we are happy to talk over your work site on 03 9048 4411 or Request Pricing here:
We can have a quote ready for you within 24-hours.
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What is an Asbestos Register?
An Asbestos Register is a document that will outline the location of asbestos materials within a building, their condition, friability, a risk assessment as well as any actions that need to be taken along with photos. Victoria also has the particular requirement that any 'unfixed' items be noted in the register including for example asbestos dust, stored asbestos items or asbestos containing furniture items.
Greenlight have a unique approach that represents world's best practice. We distil the important information for your site, what is asbestos containing and what is not, into two distinct sections of the report to clearly communicate the asbestos risk or safety of the identified materials. We include photos in-line with each entry for ease of communication.
When is an Asbestos Audit Required?
An asbestos audit is a legal obligation for all workplaces in Victoria that were built prior to 2004. Additionally, the workplace must be audited every 5 years. An asbestos audit is also required prior to any demolition or refurbishment activity on a commercial property or on residential properties if carried out by a commercial company (the laws then consider the residence to be a workplace under the OHS Act).
For example, people or organisations in these situations will require an asbestos register to be on site and in an accessible location:
If you own, lease or manage a commercial workplace;
If you are about to have refurbishment or demolition works at your workplace;
If you are a demolition or refurbishment contractor, about to carry out works on a building of any kind (including residential buildings);
If you are project managing a demolition or refurbishment project;
If you are part of an owner's corporation and the building either has commercial areas or is managed by a commercial company; and
If you are a property manager, owners corporation or real estate agent with a portfolio of commercial assets.
Fines for non-compliance are currently up to $30,000.00 per asset.
How Often Should an Asbestos Audit Be Carried Out?
The Victorian regulations require an asbestos audit to be carried out every five years as a minimum for all workplaces. Aside from this being a legal obligation, the audit is required because:
Asbestos materials deteriorate over time and must be re-evaluated in terms of their risk;
Changes to the workplace may mean that the location description of items has become outdated;
The materials may have been damaged in the intervening time; and
As an independent check on the initial audit.
When it comes to asbestos audits its not always 'apples and apples'. Greenlight frequently finds reports in Victoria that are either performed poorly, miss asbestos items entirely or are otherwise non-compliant with the current regulations. When choosing a company, be sure to hire a qualified organisation such as Greenlight.
Please note also that an interim localised audit or inspection may be required in any circumstance where:
The asbestos materials have been unintentionally disturbed (for example, drilling, grinding, sanding or demolition activities);
A refurbishment or demolition project is planned for either a part or the whole of a workplace (Division 6 Asbestos Audit).
What Does an Asbestos Register Look Like?
An asbestos register is usually presented as a table within a larger document with structured location information followed by any notes regarding the materials assessment such as sample numbers, material type and disturbance potential. A good register will succinctly present the asbestos items as well as non-asbestos items making clear which is which and defining the extent of any hazardous material.
Greenlight has a unique and innovative approach. We break down our investigation into two main outcomes: an Asbestos Materials Register & a Non-Asbestos Materials Register. This contrasts with other companies who typically present all their findings together in one long list leaving you to wade through (and potentially mistake) what is hazardous and what is not.
We also make our risk assessments algorithmically, meaning that each of the materials various aspects (surface treatment, friability, material type, asbestos type, etc) is assigned a number that represents the risk added by each element. So, for example an asbestos cement sheet that is unsealed by paint is considered to be more hazardous than if painted.
The outcome of this is that we can present an overall risk for each item and for the site as a whole. As a comparative measure this helps to understand the relative risk of each item and of each site. We also detail each asbestos materials extent and the overall extent for each site in square metres.
The Asbestos Materials Register
In a Greenlight report, the asbestos materials register is presented first to distill the important information with regards to your site and asbestos health and safety. Drawing contractors and workers attention to this section of the report alone will provide a significant level of control over asbestos risk in your place of work.
Greenlight will algorithmically assess the risk of the item based on several of its aspects and give a priority ranking for the item (Priorities 1 to 4).
The Non-Asbestos Materials Register
The Non-Asbestos Materials Register is included for record keeping. For example, we may have found that a particular cement sheeting does not contain asbestos. You will find details of the sampling location and photos in this section of the report for your reference.
Also, in this section are materials that may be confused with asbestos items. For example, masonite panels, if painted over may be indistinguishable from asbestos cement sheeting without intrusive testing. Or if a particular room is found to be free of asbestos we will include a general construction entry listing the particular materials found in the room.
This is where other companies really fall down. Some will not make any notes about a particular area if there are no asbestos items found there, leaving you to wonder - is it safe to drill into this wall?
All samples are tested in a NATA accredited laboratory and the lab report will be included as an appendix to your report.
Who is Responsible for Providing an Asbestos Audit?
Under the current Victorian Work Safe regulations, the owner of the workplace is responsible for providing the asbestos audit in most cases, however there may be an exception to this if any of these 3 situations apply:
The lease agreement allows the tenant to make structural changes to the building without the permission of the owner (in which case the tenant is responsible);
If the management of the property is relegated to a third party such as a property manager or an Owners Corporation Management company (in which case both the owner and the management company are responsible); or
If a commercial company has been engaged to carry out refurbishment or demolition works on the property; in this case the refurbishment or demolition contractor is required to ensure that a Division 6 Asbestos Audit is carried out prior to any works commencing. Please note that this does not change the requirement of the owner to have and maintain an asbestos register for the buildings as a workplace, although the Division 6 Audit could be used for this purpose as well provided it includes the entire property.
And by responsible we mean that those people or companies are potentially subject to fines up to $30,000 and improvement notices by Work Safe Victoria if they do not comply with the laws.
If you're not sure, give us a call on 03 9048 4411 and we'll be able to advise you.
What are the Responsibilities of Tenants who Lease a Workplace?
The tenants of a commercial property do have responsibilities under the relevant laws, though supplying a register is generally not one of them. They must:
Ensure that they have obtained an up to date asbestos register for their property from the owner or property manager (must be carried out in the past 5 years);
Familiarise themselves and any key personnel (those that interact with contractors) with asbestos items on the site;
Store the register in an accessible location; and
Supply the register to any contractors working on the site.
Additionally, the tenants must inform the owner or manager of any changes in the condition of asbestos items on the site and assist in keeping the register updated.
My Building is New - Do I need an Asbestos Audit?
If your building is built after December 2003, you are exempt from the requirement to have an asbestos audit unless asbestos has previously been identified on your property. For example, there are instances where you may have a new building but:
There is a legacy asbestos issue from previous structures on the site such as asbestos contaminated soil or residual structures; or
Asbestos containing furniture or equipment have been moved into the premises. This happens more than you might think. There are for example asbestos containing filing cabinets, desks, chairs, lab equipment, the list goes on! The new regulations by Work Safe introduced in 2017 mean that unfixed asbestos items such as these must be documented as well as the buildings structural materials.
In both of the cases above, if you have knowledge of asbestos on site, you must have an asbestos register and management plan.
I Thought Asbestos Was Banned in the 90's...
Why are only buildings built after December 2003 exempt? This was the date that asbestos was officially banned from importation into Australia as well as banned from any commercial use nation-wide. Although some states banned its use prior to this, these measures were found to be only partly effective due to the availability of materials and lack of compliance.
Buildings built after 1990 are far less likely to contain asbestos than those built prior, however due to the exceptions that do exist, you are still required to have an asbestos survey, even if your building was built in 2002.
The process of obtaining an asbestos audit and register for your business or property is straight forward and can be provided within a week of our investigation. The first step is to give us a call on 03 9048 4411 or you can send us an email at email@example.com.
We will provide pricing either over the phone or within 24-hours. A licensed asbestos assessor will travel to site and carry out a visual inspection of the property and safely collect samples for analysis in a NATA accredited laboratory. Your report will be ready within a week. There will be nothing to pay until your report is due.
Other Regulatory Requirements for Asbestos in Workplaces
Identifying and documenting is the first step and if you do have asbestos materials within the building, our report will detail what actions, if any are needed. Some things that are typically required are: labeling of asbestos items, an asbestos management plan for the site and minor maintenance activities such as sealing works. We will be on-hand to provide advice and ongoing support as needed.