New codes of practice and a guidance note for asbestos

Wednesday, 24 August, 2005

The National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC) has declared a revised Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos 2nd Edition [NOHSC: 2002 (2005)] and a new Code of Practice for the Management and Control of Asbestos in Workplaces [NOHSC:2018 (2005)].

Asbestos is a serious issue for Australia and will continue to be so for many years. Asbestos is known to cause cancer in humans and inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. That is why declaration of these codes of practice is so important.

The asbestos codes aim to prevent workplace exposure to airborne asbestos fibres and reduce the incidence of asbestos-related disease through safe management, control and removal of asbestos, and to increase consistency of state and territory regulatory frameworks for asbestos. The ultimate goal of the new codes of practice is for all workplaces to become free of asbestos. Declaration of the new asbestos codes of practice also supports the Australia-wide ban on new uses of asbestos in workplaces, which took effect on 31 December 2003, and will aid in achieving National Priority 3 of the National OHS Strategy - to prevent occupational disease more effectively. The Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos provides guidance on the safe removal of asbestos and asbestos-containing material from buildings and structures, plant and equipment, and vehicles.

The Code of Practice for the Management and Control of Asbestos in Workplaces sets out the steps to be taken to safely manage asbestos-containing materials currently installed in workplaces. These steps include identifying asbestos-containing materials, performing risk assessments and implementing control measures.

NOHSC has also published a revised Guidance Note on the Membrane Filter Method for Estimating Airborne Asbestos Fibres 2nd Edition [NOHSC: 3003(2005)]. The guidance note has been amended to complement the revised national exposure standard for chrysotile asbestos (0.1 fibres/mL of air) that was declared in 2003.

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