Licence requirements for asbestos removal work
The WHS Regulations require a person conducting a business or undertaking who commissions the removal of asbestos at the workplace to ensure asbestos removal work is carried out only by a licensed asbestos removalist who is appropriately licensed to carry out the work, unless specified in the WHS Regulations that a licence is not required.
There are two types of licences: Class A and Class B. The type of licence required will depend on the type and quantity of asbestos or ACM that is being removed at a workplace.
|Type of Licence
|What asbestos can be removed?
|Can remove any amount or quantity of asbestos or ACM, including:· any amount of friable asbestos or ACM· any amount of ACD· any amount of non-friable asbestos or ACM
|Can remove:· any amount of non-friable asbestos or ACM
(Note: A Class B licence is required for removal of more than 10m2 of non-friable asbestos or ACM but the licence holder can also remove up to 10m2 of non-friable asbestos or ACM)· ACD associated with the removal of non-friable asbestos or ACM
|No licence required
|Can remove:· Up to 10m2 of non-friable asbestos or ACM· ACD that is:· Associated with the removal of less than 10m2 of non-friable asbestos or ACM· Not associated with the removal of friable or non-friable asbestos and is only a minor contamination
Removing non-friable asbestos containing materials (ACM’s)
Non friable ACM’s (also known as bonded ACM’s) are less of a health risk than friable (unbonded) products. The individual asbestos fibres are firmly bound into a matrix, inhibiting their release into the atmosphere. However, safe methods must still be used when handling or removing them.
Key points to remember when removing bonded asbestos products are:
- the work area should be cordoned off (e.g. with barrier tape) to ensure unprotected people cannot enter the area
- people involved in the removal process should wear suitable protective equipment (disposable coveralls and a P2 respirator, available from most hardware stores)
- the product should be wet down prior to removal, except where this would be dangerous (e.g. on a roof)
- damage or breakage of the material should be minimised
- plastic drop sheets should be used, and all surfaces then wet wiped after removal is completed (i.e. wiped over with a damp cloth)
- people involved in removal should go through some form of decontamination process
- work should be performed in well-ventilated areas, and in the open air where possible
- power tools should never be used, as they are likely to disperse fibres into the air.
Removing friable products
Removal of friable asbestos products can only be performed by people with an asbestos removalist licence approved by the WorkCover NSW.
Friable asbestos products must be handled very carefully. To avoid creating airborne fibre, the following methods are generally used.
- A dust-tight plastic enclosure is constructed around the asbestos before it is removed.
- The designated asbestos work area is placed under a lower air pressure than that outside (commonly termed ‘negative pressure’), using powerful fan units.
- The fans are fitted with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, to collect any airborne fibres and inhibit the leaking of contaminated air out of the work area.
- The friable asbestos is wetted before disturbing it to further inhibit the creation of airborne dust.
- Specialised vacuum cleaners fitted with HEPA filters are used to clean up asbestos dust and debris. (Normal domestic type cleaners are not suitable and should never be used.)
- Personnel involved in removing friable asbestos products wear protective equipment, including overalls and suitable respirator, while inside the work area.
- Personnel decontaminate themselves and any items prior to leaving the work area, using portable decontamination (shower) chambers.
- Airborne fibre monitoring is conducted during removal works.
Under no circumstances should unqualified people disturb friable asbestos products.
A person commissioning licensed asbestos removal work must ensure that, once the licensed asbestos removal work has been completed, a clearance inspection is carried out and a clearance certificate is issued before the workplace can be re-occupied by:
- An independent licensed asbestos assessor, for work that must be carried out by a Class A licensed asbestos removalist (for example, if the removal work involved friable asbestos)
- An independent competent person, for asbestos work that is not required to be carried out by a Class A licensed asbestos removalist (for example, if removal work involved more than 10m2 of non-friable asbestos.
This also includes where the work is being carried out at domestic premises. For domestic premises the licensed removalist must ensure a clearance inspection is carried out.
To be independent, the licensed asbestos assessor or competent person must not be involved in the removal of asbestos for that specific job and is not involved in a business or undertaking involved in the removal of the asbestos for that specific job.
Asbestos left in buildings
Asbestos may be left in a building if it will remain undisturbed, or if it can be treated to ensure it will remain in an undisturbed and sound condition. Such treatment can include:
- encapsulation or sealing, involving coating the outer surface of the asbestos product with a protective material to reduce the chance of damaging the asbestos, and to prolong its life
- enclosing asbestos behind a rigid barrier such as plywood sheeting, to protect it from damage.
However, removing asbestos is generally the preferred option, as it eliminates the hazard from the building.
- Remaining asbestos is to be listed within the Asbestos Register.
Disposing of asbestos
- Asbestos must be fully sealed before disposal.
- Asbestos is generally double bagged in 0.2 mm thick plastic bags at the workface before being taken away.
- Sealed drums may sometimes also be used to dispose of asbestos.
- Bonded products such as asbestos cement sheeting can be either double bagged or placed into a plastic-lined industrial skip.
- The sealed asbestos is then taken to a landfill approved by the local authority for specialised burial.
Asbestos transport and disposal is also regulated under NSW EPA (http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/)
Asbestos disposal sites in New South Wales:
link: refer to EPA website
Asbestos Licensing Requirements
For more information please see link