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Safe Environments discuss the importance of Asbestos Management Plans

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The purpose of an asbestos management plan is to assist the controller of premises to prevent exposure to airborne asbestos fibres while asbestos containing material remains in the workplace. The ultimate goal is for all workplaces to be free of asbestos containing materials; however this is not practicable in most situations. The Asbestos management plan clearly defines the procedures and responsibilities of those who have control, or to make aware of the potential asbestos hazard in the workplace. Safe Environments can assist in developing asbestos management plans to comply with OHS legislation.

The initial step in developing an asbestos management plan is to engage an asbestos consultant to undertake an asbestos inspection or survey. The asbestos survey involves a visual inspection of the accessible areas of the building and collecting suspected samples of asbestos materials that are then analysed by a NATA accredited laboratory. An assessment of the risk to health is then carried out on the confirmed asbestos materials. Labels are affixed to the asbestos containing materials to warn people of the potential asbestos hazard.

If the asbestos containing material poses a health risk based on the activities being undertaken in the current condition, suitable control measures are required to be implemented. This may include restriction to the area if there is a risk to health from exposure, then removal of the asbestos containing materials by a licensed contractor. Other methods of controlling asbestos in the workplace are through encapsulation or enclosure by sealing or some other form of physical barrier until removal is possible. In each situation, advice should be sought from a competent asbestos consultant.

The periodic review of asbestos inspections and surveys should be outlined in the asbestos management plan. Generally this occurs on a yearly basis, or when significant disturbance has occurred to assess the risk to health. The asbestos management plan should incorporate procedures for asbestos removal, and maintenance and service work that is likely to disturb asbestos containing materials. This can be part of the induction process and viewed at the contractors sign in the area.

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