Despite being banned from use in Australia since December 31, 2003, asbestos continues to pose a significant occupational health and safety (OHS) concern in workplaces across the country. Raising awareness and adhering to the Work Health and Safety (WHS) regulations is crucial for managing the risks associated with this hazardous material. Recent incidents involving imported products containing asbestos, a general lack of comprehension about asbestos registers and the need for intrusive or destructive testing before refurbishment projects highlight the ongoing relevance of asbestos safety.
In this article, we will explore the distinction between two common types of asbestos surveys, Division 5 and Division 6, while emphasising their alignment with WHS/OHS regulations. We will also discuss the importance of these surveys in eliminating the risk of potential asbestos exposure in the workplace while complying with regulatory requirements.
Understanding Asbestos Surveys in WHS/OHS Context:
Asbestos surveys are a fundamental aspect of compliance with WHS/OHS regulations. These surveys are crucial to identify and assess the risks associated with confirmed or assumed asbestos in a workplace, thereby ensuring adherence to safety regulations. The information gathered during these surveys is compiled into an asbestos register, a vital component of asbestos management, as mandated by WHS/OHS regulations.
Differentiating between Division 5 and Division 6 Surveys within WHS/OHS Regulations:
In the context of WHS/OHS regulations, it is essential to understand the differentiation between Division 5 and Division 6 asbestos surveys:
Features of Division 5 Asbestos Surveys:
- Proactive and required for all workplaces to comply with WHS/OHS regulations.
- Non-intrusive, focusing on surface materials that are readily accessible, aligning with regulatory requirements.
- Involve minimal destruction to the building, plant, fixtures, and fittings, ensuring compliance with safety guidelines.
- Accessibility limitations may exist due to ongoing operations and occupants but are accounted for within WHS/OHS regulations.
- Generally unsuitable for renovation or upgrade projects, as per regulatory guidelines.
- Assume asbestos presence in inaccessible areas, if likely, in accordance with WHS/OHS regulations.
Features of Division 6 (Intrusive/Pre-Demolition/Refurbishment) Asbestos Survey:
- Reactive and required for planned or ongoing works, ensuring compliance with WHS/OHS regulations.
- Highly intrusive, involving significant destruction to building elements while adhering to safety regulations.
- Demand full access (as far as reasonably practicable) due to the potential disturbance of installed materials, in line with WHS/OHS regulatory requirements.
- Involve more extensive sampling to provide clarity on suspended materials, ensuring compliance with safety standards.
- Adequate for renovation or upgrade projects when conducted correctly and within WHS/OHS regulations.
The choice between Division 5 and Division 6 asbestos surveys within the context of WHS/OHS regulations can significantly impact compliance with safety guidelines, project costs, and timelines. Gathering detailed information upfront can prevent project delays and unexpected expenses due to asbestos discoveries, aligning with WHS/OHS requirements.
Re-Inspections and WHS/OHS Compliance:
Re-inspection requirements within WHS/OHS regulations can vary between states and consultants. Some scopes may be limited to re-inspecting previously identified items, aligning with regulatory standards. A risk-based approach is recommended to determine the necessity of a full re-survey, ensuring compliance with WHS/OHS regulations. The person in control of or managing a workplace must ensure all asbestos is identified or assumed, adhering to safety guidelines and legal obligations.
Understanding the differences between Division 5 and Division 6 asbestos surveys within the context of WHS/OHS regulations is crucial for effective asbestos management and regulatory compliance. Careful consideration of the project’s nature and the level of intrusion required ensures alignment with WHS/OHS requirements. Having an ‘unexpected finds’ procedure as part of the Asbestos Management Plan is vital, as it aids in compliance with safety regulations, and keeping the plan up to date is a legal requirement under state-based WHS/OHS legislation.
Comprehensive assessment and management of asbestos, as guided by WHS/OHS regulations, reduce the risk of accidental disturbance, protecting building occupants and workers from airborne asbestos exposure. Stay informed and proactive in asbestos management to ensure a safe workplace in compliance with WHS/OHS regulations.
The necessary disturbance of materials during a division 6 asbestos survey is the primary reason division 6 asbestos surveys are sometimes referred to as intrusive asbestos surveys. Global Asbestos Audits can help you navigate the complexities of asbestos regulations to help your property remain compliant and safe.