Information & Resources
Asbestos removal and safe handling
- What should I do if I find asbestos in my home?
- Can I get materials tested for asbestos?
- What if I accidentally break asbestos?
- Can I remove asbestos from my home myself?
- How do I dispose of asbestos?
- Consider your neighbours
- Other things to consider
- How to manage an asbestos incident
- Who do I contact for further information about asbestos?
If you think that you have found asbestos in your home, don’t touch it. Asbestos is a risk in the home when it is disturbed in a way that produces dust that contains asbestos fibres. In many cases the presence of asbestos-containing materials in the home is no cause for alarm if the material has not been damaged. If the material is not damaged and shows no signs of wear and tear it can often be left in place. For example, internal asbestos cement sheet walls or ceilings that are in good condition and coated with paint do not pose a risk to health, while they are not showing signs of degradation or damage.
If materials containing asbestos are in your home and are in good condition (i.e. undamaged, undisturbed), the safest option is to leave them alone.
Visually inspect the materials from time to time for deterioration and damage.
If you are thinking about working with or removing a material that contains asbestos, please consider the following:
- If it is in good condition (e.g. undamaged), can you leave it alone?
- Do you know the alternatives to removing the material containing asbestos (e.g. painting or sealing, covering with a non-asbestos product)?
- Can you comply with the laws and safety procedures for working with asbestos?
- Should you use a licensed asbestos removalist?
If you have to handle or work with asbestos it is important to remember:
- Do Not use power tools
- Do Not use abrasive cutting or sanding discs
- Do Not use compressed air
- Do Not use high-pressure hoses
- Do Not walk on corrugated asbestos cement roofs as you may run the risk of falling through the roof
- Do Not leave asbestos products around the garden where they may be broken or crushed
- Do get the material tested by a NATA-accredited laboratory if you are unsure if it contains asbestos
- Always work with asbestos in well-ventilated areas
- Ensure the material is thoroughly wet down and kept wet during work to minimise the release of fibres and dust
It is recommended that loosely-bound asbestos only be removed by a licensed professional, as health risks associated with handling this type of material are far greater than for firmly-bound asbestos.
A householder may legally remove asbestos from their property, however as asbestos poses a health risk during removal, packaging, transport and disposal, it is important that it is handled safely during these operations.
Please refer to the OHS Reps web-site for further information regarding the safe handling and removal of asbestos in the home.
The Victorian Trades Hall Council (03 9662 3511) maintains a list of licensed removalists and hygienists who have also signed an agreement with the VTHC to operate according to a code of conduct. The list is updated every three months and all removalists have been issued licences under the new 2003 regulations.
Yes. Laboratories that analyse building materials for asbestos can be found by contacting the National Association of Testing Authorities on 03 9329 1633 or visiting http://www.nata.asn.au/
The laboratories can also give you advice on how to correctly take and send a sample. There will be fees involved.
You can also contact an asbestos consultant for advice. Click here for a list of registered asbestos removalists and hygienists in Victoria.
If you accidentally break a material containing asbestos, the safest way to manage any health risks is to wipe up any dust with a damp cloth or paper towel, put the cloth/towel into two plastic bags, tie them up individually and put them in your rubbish bin.
Do not use a normal vacuum cleaner as it cannot filter out all particles and can release more asbestos fibres into the air. If the material containing asbestos is cracked, you should seal the crack with a product like PVA glue or paint. If there is more significant damage, the entire sheet should be replaced and the old sheet disposed of correctly.
Although householders are legally entitled to carry out asbestos removal, we DO NOT recommend this practice. According to the Occupational Health & Safety Regulations 2007 Part 4.3 Division 7 Subdivision 2, an unlicenced person may remove non-friable asbestos material if the area does not exceed 10m2 and the total time over which the removal is performed does not exceed one hour in any 7-day period.
If you decide to remove asbestos yourself, we strongly encourage careful handling and adherence to safety practices. Asbestos fibres are dangerous and pose a risk not to only yourself, but to your family and neighbours. If the product is loosely bound we urge you to contact a licensed professional.
If you are removing firmly-bound asbestos, we suggest that you wear disposable personal protective equipment (PPE). Double wrap the material in strong, thick (at least 0.2mm) plastic bags labelled as "Asbestos". Dispose of the material along with the breathing apparatus and protective clothing at an appropriate waste treatment centre.
A list of licensed asbestos removalists can be obtained from the Service Provider Directory at the WorkSafe Victoria website.
Asbestos waste needs to be disposed of at a site which has been approved by your local council as soon as possible. Each council sets its own rules on if and how it receives asbestos waste.
Contact your local council to find out where you can dispose of asbestos waste, any conditions for disposal (e.g. time of day, maximum amount at one time) and how much it will cost.
You can also use a licensed waste removal company to collect and remove asbestos waste for you. They can provide different bins and containers, including drums and skips, for asbestos waste. Waste removalists can be found in the Yellow Pages under “Asbestos” or “Rubbish Removal”.
If you are taking the asbestos waste to your council’s approved site, place the double wrapped/bagged asbestos waste in a trailer or in the back of a utility or truck. Secure the load to make sure it doesn’t bounce or fly out, tear the plastic wrapping/bags or break the asbestos. Follow the council’s directions when you arrive at the site.
There is a map created by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) of Victorian landfills licensed to receive asbestos. This will assist you to identify the closest disposal option. Landfills are categorised as:
• Domestic (householder DIY)
• Commercial and domestic
• Commercial only
When deciding on how to work with, remove or dispose of asbestos-containing materials do not forget your neighbours. Under the nuisance provisions of the Health Act 1958, any nuisances which are, or are liable to be, offensive or dangerous to health could be investigated by an environmental health officer of your local council.
Consequently, any asbestos work carried out without appropriate precautions may be investigated. If you have concerns that a neighbour is removing asbestos without taking appropriate precautions, please contact your local council. The party may be breaching the Health Act 1958 and the Building Act 1993.
Some renovation or demolition activities may require planning approval, and/or building/demolition permits. Contact your local council’s building and planning departments for more information.
If you are employing someone to remove asbestos products from your property, that person may need to be a licensed asbestos removalist.
Unlicensed contractors (trades people or handymen) are not allowed to remove loosely-bound asbestos, and may only remove firmly-bound asbestos if the amount to be removed is less than 10m2 in area and they conduct asbestos removal for less than 1 hour in any 7-day period. Contact WorkSafe Victoria for more information.
The nature and circumstances of an issue or emergency incident involving asbestos, determines how it is managed and which agencies become involved.
If you feel you are involved in an asbestos related incident then there are several State Government agencies that may become involved to help resolve and handle the issue.
If the event is a public health issue then it should be referred to the Environmental Health Officer of your local municipal council.
If the incident is an occupational health and safety issue then it should be referred to WorkSafe Victoria.
If the incident involves the transport or disposal of asbestos then it should be referred to the Environmental Protection Authority.
Below is a list of some of the issues and incidents that may be associated with asbestos either in the home or the workplace and the State Government agencies that may become involved in resolving or handling the issue.
- Householder removing asbestos material
- Transport of asbestos material by a householder
- Derelict warehouse being converted to residential use
- Derelict warehouse that is not a workplace
- Dumping asbestos material on private/public land
- House being demolished by a householder
- Fire at a residential premise
- Storing asbestos material on a residential property
- Removal of asbestos roof or cladding from a factory or any other workplace
- Contractor removing asbestos material from a residence
- Storing asbestos material on a work site
- Derelict warehouse that is a workplace
- Environmental Protection Authority
- Transport of asbestos material by a contractor
- Polluting land with asbestos material
Responsibility of the employer
Asbestoswise believes that every worker has a right to a safe working environment. A safe environment in this case is no exposure to asbestos.
Local Council - Environmental Health Officer
For enquiries or complaints regarding the incorrect removal or disposal of asbestos in your neighbourhood, and for enquiries regarding the potential health effects of exposure to asbestos in the home environment.
Department of Human Services
For enquiries regarding the potential health effects of exposure to asbestos in the home environment.
Tel: (03) 9096 5174
General enquiries 1300 761 874
Emergency Response Coordinator (24 hours) 1300 790 733
Barwon/SW Victoria (03) 5226 4540
Grampians/Western Vic (03) 5333 6669
Gippsland (03) 5177 2500
Hume/NE Victoria (03) 5722 0555
Loddon Mallee/NW Victoria (03) 5434 5555
North West Metropolitan (03) 9412 5333 or (03) 9275 7000
Eastern Metropolitan (03) 9843 6000
Southern Metropolitan (03) 9213 2111
Environment Protection Authority (EPA)
For a list of licensed asbestos disposal sites in your area, and enquiries relating to the correct disposal of asbestos-containing materials.
General enquiries (03) 9695 2722
Pollution Watch (24 hours)
Metro area (03) 9695 2777
Regional Victoria 1800 444 004
Dandenong (03) 8710 5555
Bendigo (03) 5442 4393
Geelong (03) 5226 4825
Gippsland (03) 5176 1744
Wangaratta (03) 5721 7277
For a list of licensed asbestos removalists in your area, complaints regarding work carried out by an asbestos removalist, and enquiries or complaints regarding asbestos in the workplace.
General enquiries (toll free) 1800 136 089
Emergency Response Service (24 hours) 13 23 60
Ballarat (03) 5338 4444
Bendigo (03) 5443 8866
Dandenong (03) 8792 9000
Geelong (03) 5226 1200
Melbourne (03) 9941 0558
Mildura (03) 5021 4001
Mulgrave (03) 9565 9444
Preston (03) 9485 4555
Shepparton (03) 5831 8260
Traralgon (03) 5174 8900
Wangaratta (03) 5721 8588
Warrnambool (03) 5562 5600
National Association of Testing Authorities
For a NATA-accredited laboratory in your area that can identify asbestos.
Tel: (03) 9329 1633
Asbestoswise is not accredited to provide advice, and the information contained on this website is for assistance only.
Asbestoswise makes no statements, representations or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of any information provided, and you should not rely upon it. Professional advice should be sought from the relevant sources as required.
Asbestoswise disclaims all responsibility and all liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages and costs you might incur as a result of the information being inaccurate or incomplete in any way and for any reason.