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At the height of its popularity from the 1950s through to the 1970s, asbestos was present in more than 3000 products. While the use of asbestos declined from the 1980s, asbestos continued to be imported into Australia until January 2004
Who is at risk of Asbestos exposure?
Anyone can be exposed to Asbestos. The main groups of people who have been affected by asbestos disease are:
- Asbestos Plant Workers
- Handlers and waterside workers
- Asbestos factory workers
- Carpenters, plumbers, electricians and builders
- Those washing clothes worn by people exposed to asbestos
If you are on a worksite where you believe there is asbestos, you should say something to your employer. You are not required to work in an unsafe environment.
However, if this is difficult for you, you should contact WorkSafe or your Union.
If you work in asbestos removal, there are strict rules about how asbestos should be removed safely and what precautions you need to take. If you are unsure about what you are being asked to do, contact WorkSafe or your Union.
If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos in your workplace, you should register your details with our asbestos team and we will put you on the Asbestos Database. If your employer gives you an Exposure letter, you should send in a copy of this to us and keep your original in a safe place.
Where can Asbestos be found?
More recently asbestos has been identified in older office buildings due to their refurbishment and renovations.
Homes built or renovated before 1987: the facts you should know
- Every home built or renovated in the years leading up to 1987, most likely contains asbestos.
- A conservative estimate is that 1 in 3 homes in Australia contain asbestos, including brick homes.
- If asbestos is undisturbed it generally does not pose a health risk.
- Many Australians may unknowingly be putting their health and the health of their children, and neighbours at risk because they don’t really understand the dangers of working with asbestos or know where it might be found in and around their home.
- During renovations or the demolition of homes containing asbestos, asbestos fibres can be released into the air and be inhaled leading to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
- Only scientific testing of a sample of material by an accredited National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) asbestos testing laboratory can confirm the presence of asbestos. For information on testing and accredited laboratories in your area, visit www.nata.asn.au or call (03) 9274 8200
- It is not only homes constructed of fibro that contain asbestos. Asbestos may be found in every room in the home. It may be behind wall and floor tiles, in walls, ceilings, under floorcoverings including lino and carpet and around hot water systems.
Anything made from bonded asbestos cement including:
- Fibro sheeting (flat and corrugated)
- Water, drainage and flue pipes
- Roofing shingles
- Backyard sheds and fences
- Attic and roof insulation
- Insulation around cables
After a storm, fire or flood
Natural disasters have raised the awareness of exposure to asbestos in recent times. If you have been affected by a natural disaster ensure that you contact your local Emergency Services in the first instance and be guided by them.
In the event that asbestos has been identified and once it is safe to do so, engage with an accredited asbestos removalist – you can locate one through the Yellow Pages. Also ensure that any removal and disposal of the asbestos is in accordance with your local government requirements – you can access this information through their website.