NSCA Foundation

2019–2023: asbestos awareness, management and removal

Thursday, 02 April, 2020

2019–2023: asbestos awareness, management and removal

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency is working on the national strategic plan (NSP) for asbestos awareness and management, from 2019–2023. NATIONAL SAFETY reviews this second phase of the NSP, which was launched at the Asbestos Safety Conference in November 2019.

The NSP ensures there is a nationally consistent and coordinated approach to asbestos awareness, management and approval, and strives to eliminate asbestos-related diseases in Australia. Phase one of the plan went from 2014–2018, with phase two (‘National strategic plan for asbestos awareness and management 2019–2023’) including four national priorities, which meet the requirements in the Act. The first national priority for the NSP is to improve asbestos awareness to influence behavioural change, by providing timely and accurate information about the health risks of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) to workers and the community. Governments and community bodies must collaborate to provide trusted, easily understood, practical and widely available information about the risks of ACMs in homes, workplaces and the environment. Strategic actions under this priority include producing comprehensive and nationally consistent asbestos awareness campaigns for the community and workers, and providing additional information on asbestos safety in the home, workplace and the environment.

Further strategic actions include providing education and training for those exposed to asbestos, or who make decisions about ACMs, while continuing to develop powerful awareness messages. Establishing or maintaining single sources of asbestos-related information at the national and jurisdictional level, and sharing research about asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) to improve policy and practice could also help improve asbestos awareness. The second national priority for the NSP relates to identification and effective legacy management, which involves preventing exposure to asbestos fibres by accurately identifying and removing it from homes and public and commercial buildings. Strategic actions under this priority include identifying and promoting robust models for identifying and grading ACMs, and encouraging effective management of asbestos-contaminated land. Developing a national picture of where ACMs are located in homes, commercial and public buildings, infrastructure and land could also help achieve the second national priority for the NSP.

The provision of practical and effective information on how to stabilise and contain ACMs at the sale of homes, buildings, infrastructure and land could also help achieve the second priority for the NSP. Emergency and natural disaster plans must also be revised in a consistent and timely manner, along with asbestos-related legal frameworks. Ensuring effective compliance and enforcement of relevant laws by regulatory agencies could also help maintain legacy management. The third priority for the NSP involves the safe removal of asbestos, and effective waste management. ACMs in poor condition present a risk to health and safety, and must be removed to prevent exposure to asbestos fibres. This requires planning, budgeting and the development of schedules and processes for prioritised removal, according to risk, followed by safe disposal. Improving the quality of asbestos-related training and ensuring effective oversight of licensing regimes could make it easier to identify harmful asbestos.

Ensuring that the tools for removal of ACMs are tested, promoted and used, alongside the development of jurisdictional policies about the removal of ACMs, could aid the safe removal of asbestos. Prioritising the removal of ACMs from buildings, land and infrastructure and providing incentives to encourage the safe removal and disposal of ACMs from homes could also help uphold the third priority of the NSP. International collaboration and leadership among Australian and international agencies is the fourth priority; this could encourage importers to comply with Australia’s ban, and stop the illegal importation of ACMs. This can be achieved by presenting the Australian Government’s position on banning asbestos mining, manufacture and use to international bodies, and sharing best practice approaches to asbestos management and eradication at international events. ACM importation risks must also be identified through international engagement, with continuing education of the import supply chain to prevent ACMs entering Australia.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Kim Britten

NSCA Foundation is a member based, non-profit organisation working together with members to improve workplace health and safety throughout Australia. For more information and membership details click here
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