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Who is a 'competent person' to identify asbestos risks?

Q: We have asbestos at our workplace that is all clearly identified. It is on our register, we have put in steps to inform appropriate people, etc. However, we are struggling with one aspect.

Part of our management plan is to inspect the areas on a regular basis, but everything we read says that a competent person must do this inspection. Our understanding is that the inspection in question is a straightforward visual inspection – to confirm there are no cracks or chips and all is as it should be.

However, who is a competent person in this instance? We are not asking them to verify it is asbestos just verify the integrity of the object (i.e. a pole) is intact.

Our feeling is that a competent person in this case is someone who sees the area on a regular basis, such as our Head of Grounds.

A: Chapter 8 of the Workplace Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (Qld) imposes a health and safety duty on persons with management or control of a workplace in relation to asbestos.

Regulation 422 requires a person with management or control of a workplace to ensure, so far as is reasonable practicable, that all asbestos and asbestos containing materials are identified in the workplace by a competent person.

A person with management or control may, however, do away with the need for a
competent person if they assume there is asbestos or there are reasonable grounds to assume that asbestos is not present in the workplace.

After the identification of asbestos, a person with management or control must develop a management plan if asbestos is identified in the workplace. There is no requirement for a ‘competent person’ to continue to inspect the asbestos as part of an asbestos management plan. Another worker could inspect to see if there has been any new damage.

For further guidance on your obligations in relation to asbestos management, please consult the Code of Practice, How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace Code of Practice (2011).

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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