Queensland updates regulations for low density asbestos board
From 1 May 2021, low density asbestos fibre board (LDB) will be classed as a friable asbestos containing material and must only be removed by a class A licensed asbestos removalist. LDB is a lightly compressed board which looks similar to asbestos cement (AC) sheeting or plasterboard. It is different because it can be easily bent by hand or dented by soft pressure, and is sometimes referred to as asbestos insulating board.
Manufactured from the 1950s to the 1970s, LDB was used for wall and ceiling panels, thermal and acoustic insulation, fire protection and for general building work in industrial and commercial buildings, educational facilities and domestic premises. LDB was sold under product names such as ‘Asbestolux’ and ‘Duralux’; it is unlikely to be found in buildings constructed after 1982.
LDB contains up to 70% by volume of asbestos fibres and is generally composed of amosite (brown asbestos) and chrysotile (white asbestos) in a calcium silicate plaster. If in good condition and left undisturbed, LDB presents a low risk of releasing asbestos fibres and causing harm; however, as it is softer than AC sheeting, LDB can break up more easily when disturbed, thereby increasing the likelihood of exposure to airborne fibres.
Maintenance and service tasks such as sawing, cutting or drilling into LDB without appropriate controls can lead to a significant release of asbestos fibres. Some maintenance and service work on LDB is permitted, when done in accordance with LDB approved methods, approved by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ). This includes minor repairs and minor damage, painting undamaged LDB, drilling holes up to 30 mm in diameter into LDB, temporarily moving a low density asbestos fibre board ceiling tile, and installing or removing fixtures or fittings to LDB.
The maintenance and service work described in the LDB approved methods does not have to be performed by a class A licensed asbestos removalist; however, workers must be familiar with the LDB approved methods and be competent to perform the work.
Training for maintenance and service work on LDB
Per the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (The Regulation), all workers carrying out asbestos-related work must be trained in the identification and safe handling of, and suitable control measures for, asbestos and ACMs. Training in relation to maintenance and service work on LDB must include identifying LDB, donning and removing personal protective equipment, decontaminating equipment, personal decontamination, and the transport and disposal of asbestos waste.
Some maintenance and service work on LDB (such as drilling holes) also requires training in use and maintenance of a H-Class vacuum cleaner, and shadow vacuuming. The training can be provided directly by an employer, a training provider engaged by an employer or a registered training organisation, as long as it meets the training elements and performance criteria.
Employers must keep documentation of their workers’ LDB training record and provide it to WHSQ on request. LDB training must be completed every five years, with workers competent in each of the training elements outlined in the low density asbestos fire board approved method training record.
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