Asbestos is much more prevalent than the average person might realise, and it’s not just a concern for residential renovators and tradies.
For the greater part of last century, much of Australia’s infrastructure was built with asbestos containing materials. From water mains and sewerage pipes to the fire doors in hospitals and shopping centres, to super six roofing on older factories, and the shell of communications pits on nearly every street corner, asbestos is rampant in public spaces both above and below the ground.
Although Australia banned asbestos use, sale, and importation in 2003, it hasn’t miraculously vanished over the past nineteen years. In fact, the last government report we can find, estimates there is still around 40,000 kilometres of asbestos water piping running underground in Australia. That won’t be disappearing overnight!
Right up into the 1980’s Asbestos was widely used in powerplants and industrial setups. Practically anywhere there was power, steam or very high temperatures, you would find asbestos insulation. Because of its durability, hospitals, universities, shopping centres, and most public buildings used asbestos widely in vinyl floor covering, fire retarding, control boards and most fire doors were predominantly made from Asbestos containing materials.
One of the most dangerous and unique aspects of asbestos, is that it doesn’t become safer as it ages and deteriorates; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. When asbestos becomes damaged or friable, that is when the potentially deadly, microscopic fibres are more likely to be released into the air.
Asbestos legacy (remnants from asbestos) in abandoned or under maintained plant and buildings can become a threat to the broader community, particularly in high wind, fire, or weather events that may disperse asbestos fibres into new environments.
Friable asbestos is considered the most high-risk form of asbestos, as it’s more easily disseminated into the air and breathed in. Friable asbestos has a whole lot of additional legal requirements for its safe removal and remediation, so if you’re concerned there may be friable asbestos in your environment, take extra precautions when selecting your asbestos contractor.
Navigating asbestos law can seem overwhelming, especially for business owners and managers. If you’re not sure what’s fact or fiction with asbestos management, removal, and remediation, we’ve got a great website full of factual, easy to follow information to guide you through the asbestos process and help you stay safe.
Unfortunately, too many myths surrounding asbestos regulations, and fear of removal prices have led to dodgy, unlicensed asbestos removers in price wars that ultimately end in corner cutting. Illegal asbestos dumping is costing taxpayers millions of dollars every year in clean-up bills and endangering the health of innocent people. While exact statistics are hard to find, asbestossafety.gov.au estimates around 6,300 tonnes of asbestos containing material is illegally dumped every year in Australia, with a clean-up bill of up to 11.2 million dollars.
How can you be sure asbestos removed from your home or workplace doesn’t add to this mounting epidemic?
- Ensure you’re using a properly licensed asbestos remover
- Ensure your asbestos remover is using the EPA’s waste locate system on every load
At HTS Group we provide seamless solutions for commercial sites, from demolition to asbestos and hazardous materials management and removal, civil construction, and ongoing site maintenance. By using one contractor for multiple stages of work, you can ensure we’ll leave your site safe and tidy ready for the next stage, taking responsibility from beginning to end.
You can trust HTS Group with every stage of your site’s lifecycle.
- Approximately 4,000 Australians die each year from asbestos related diseases.
- There roughly 40,000 km of asbestos water mains running underground throughout Australia
- $11.2million per annum – the estimated clean-up bill for illegally dumped asbestos
- 6,300 tonnes – the estimated amount of illegally and dangerously dumped asbestos every year in Australia
Source 2 asbestos safety.gov.au
Source for 3 and 4. According to ACIL ALLEN Consulting as commissioned in the ASEA report for Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency
Quick list of where you may find asbestos in an industrial setting.
- High pressure watermains
- Asbestos sewerage pipes
- Asbestos lagging, and cable insulation in high heat areas such as steam pipes
- The underground containers in telecommunications pits,
- Backing boards on power and control boards,
- Arc shields found between contactors in electric motors
- Universities, hospitals, aged care -fire doors, smoke zones hospitals in particular used steam for sterilisation and heat, lots of asbestos.
- Anything to do with boilers – power stations used extensive lagging in boilers.
- On the railways, in the signals department and in spark arrestors
- Manufacturing – super popular super six rooves
Read the full post at the Newcastle Herald online.