When Do You Need An Asbestos Audit?

Determining the Need for Asbestos Audits

If you’re a property owner or landlord, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your buildings are safe. One way to ensure this is by having your property audited for asbestos. You are legally required to have an asbestos register on-site and accessible at all times. Asbestos audits can help you find out if any of the materials in your building contain asbestos and whether they pose a health risk. They also give you the information that you need to remove these materials or reduce their exposure risks.

You might want an asbestos audit if:

  • You’re renovating or demolishing a building that was built before 1 January 2004 (asbestos may still have been used in some construction until this point)
  • You’re buying, selling or leasing a commercial, industrial or residential building

It’s also important to know what types of buildings don’t need an audit. For example, single-family homes have low levels of asbestos and typically aren’t required to undergo an audit unless they are being refurbished or demolished. In this blog, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about when audits are necessary and how often they should be performed so that you can keep your properties safe for everyone involved.

What is an asbestos audit?

An asbestos audit is an inspection of your property to determine the presence, location, and condition of any asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre that was used as an insulating material in buildings prior to the 1980s. It has been linked to several serious health conditions including lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Some examples of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) include:

  • Ceiling tiles
  • Floor tiles
  • Roofing materials

The purpose of an asbestos audit is to assess the risk posed by the presence of these materials and determine how they should be handled moving forward (ie. an Asbestos Management Plan).

The process involves the following components:

  • Phase 1—Asbestos ‘non-intrusive’ survey/inspection: This step involves conducting visual inspections and sampling to determine whether you have ACM onsite. 
  • Phase 2—Asbestos Management Plan: This phase involves developing a plan for addressing any issues with ACM identified in Phase 1, including their removal or encapsulation (encapsulation is another form of containment), clean-up measures taken at various locations within your workplace, etc.
  • Phase 3 – Asbestos ‘intrusive’ survey/inspection: Prior to refurbishment or demolition of an asbestos-containing building or potential to contain ACM, an intrusive survey/inspection needs to be undertaken and typically more samples can be taken compared to the non-intrusive audit above in Phase 1. In this type of audit, all areas that will be impacted by demolition and/or refurbishment need to be accessed and assessed. It’s also preferable that no occupants are in the building or structure that is being audited due to the potential destructive nature of the audit. That is; assumptions, which can sometimes be the case in Phase 1, should not be the case in this type of audit to rule out the presence of ACM. This type of audit helps to identify which materials are present so that you can prepare to safely remove or encapsulate them if necessary.

Why do I need an asbestos audit?

An asbestos audit is required by law for a number of reasons. Firstly, it will ensure that you are in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety

Regulations 2017 if in Victoria and other Work Health and Safety legislation if

you’re outside of Victoria in Australia. The above regulations require employers to:

  • identify and manage any ACM in your workplace
  • keep an accurate register of all ACM
  • prepare a management plan for each category or type of ACM present within your workplaces of your organisation

How do I perform an asbestos audit?

  • Hire a professional like Helia EHS  who are a leading environmental auditing company
  • Helia EHS can inspect and assess the property for ACM
  • Take photographs and samples (for laboratory identification) to prepare a report.

A full asbestos audit is a great way to assess the risk of exposure in your building and take appropriate action to improve safety. It can give you peace of mind that the status of ACM (from identification to management) at your facility is compliant with local asbestos-related legislation of your jurisdiction. This not only can protect the health of your employees, but also the longevity of your business. Contact the team at Helia EHS today to speak to one of our experts about your requirements.

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