Government agencies are responsible for compliance with asbestos legislation and policy with health and safety advice being provided by the respective Worksafe or Safework State or Territory regulators. Government portfolios can include numerous properties which makes it difficult to suitably manage asbestos within its assets.
Most agencies support the removal of asbestos when there is a health risk or part of building works as best practice, however some departments have committed to an approach of removing all asbestos within its assets. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages.
Local government buildings include such things as community centres, libraries, childcare facilities, public toilets, sporting facilities, emergency service stations including police and fire, hospitals, prisons, transport depots, defence sites and even community housing. Most government agencies are responsible for the management of their own assets but often engage third party consultants to assist in developing asbestos registers, asbestos management plans (AMPs) and even managing abatement works.
Management of Asbestos
The aim of the management of asbestos is to keep the register current where trained inspectors regularly inspect buildings containing asbestos. The inspectors are typically part of a panel of experts run by each Department. Often however, works are conducted by contractors engaged under other panel and works arrangements or even engaged by the building manager direct where the work is not discussed with the department responsible for managing the asbestos containing materials (ACMs) to the property assets. Due to the size of most government agencies, it is extremely difficult to manage this without stakeholder engagement.
OHMS understanding of these complex management difficulties enables our approach to be tailored when working with government entities. With a strong push towards training and engagement exceptional results in reducing the risk of accidental disturbance can be achieved.
We aim to provide guidance and assistance through partnership with our clients. From the provision of an online portal housing all data in relation to asbestos and the client’s assets to the development of technical scopes of work and competitive tendering when asbestos remediation is required.
It is key for government agencies to have tight controls with regards managing asbestos along with the aforementioned stakeholder engagement. Development of an organisation wide management plan which sets out clear instructions in outlining all potential situations in a format that is clear and concise is a starting point. It will endeavour to engage stakeholders to work towards preventing work conducted on the site involving asbestos without the proper authorisations through the correct channels.
OHMS are developing the British Occupational Hygiene Society’s IP405 ‘Management of Asbestos in Buildings’ to provide greater awareness to those that have the role and responsibility of managing asbestos containing materials within their assets. This will also assist government employees in roles where they manage asbestos to increase their awareness and better establish techniques to complement their role.