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What do we have to report to regulators about asbestos (both friable and non friable) at our workplace?

Q: What do we have to report to regulators about asbestos (both friable and non friable) at our workplace? I have been told by some people that sites containing a minimum of 10 square metres of bonded asbestos have to be reported to SafeWork NSW.

A: There is no requirement to report to SafeWork NSW the existence of bonded asbestos at all. While the existence of the material will be contained in your asbestos register, this register does not get reported to SafeWork NSW (although it must be available for inspection).

The reference to 10 square metres of bonded asbestos relates only to asbestos removal work. There is an exemption (see clause 458 of the WHS Regulations) from having to engage a licensed asbestos removalist (LAR) if the material is less than 10 square metres of non-friable (that is, bonded) asbestos. This has nothing to do with notification per se from your point of view.

But in NSW, a LAR does have obligations to report the presence of asbestos to the regulator. These obligations stem from the WHS Act and Regulations, and SafeWork NSW Codes of Practice: How to Safely Remove Asbestos and How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace.

Before licensed asbestos removal work can be commenced, a LAR is required to inform SafeWork NSW in writing of the work five working days beforehand. Then, if and when respirable asbestos fibre levels at more than 0.02 fibres/ml are found in the removal area, the LAR is required to notify the regulator immediately.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Asbestos for current advice.

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