21 min read


Last updated November 2023

This chapter explains your obligations to workers and others when handling asbestos, or if asbestos is found to exist within your organisation.

What is asbestos?

Definition: Asbestos

Asbestos means the asbestiform varieties of mineral silicates belonging to the serpentine or amphibole groups of rock-forming minerals, including actinolite asbestos, grunerite (or amosite) asbestos (brown), anthophyllite asbestos, chrysotile asbestos (white), crocidolite asbestos (blue) and tremolite asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was commonly used in the Australian residential building industry between the 1940s and 1970s due to its durability, fire resistance and insulating properties. It is now known that when disturbed, asbestos releases small fibres that can easily be inhaled, which are a major health hazard.

Asbestos containing material (ACM) can be either friable or non-friable.

Definition: Friable ACM

Friable ACM is any material that contains more than 1% asbestos by weight or area, depending on whether it is a bulk or sheet material and can be crumbled or reduced to powder by hand pressure.
Definition: Non-Friable ACM

Non-friable ACM is any material that contains more than 1% asbestos, but cannot be crushed by hand pressure. Non-friable ACM is often asbestos mixed with other materials like cement, such as fibro-cement. Fibro-cement is the most commonly found non-friable asbestos in our built environment.