Building Safety and Asbestos
- Written by Adam Gatt Penrith City Council (02) 4732 7777 (02) 4732 7958 firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au 601 High St Penrith NSW 2750 Australia
For information about asbestos, its risks and what to do if you find it in your home, see the NSW Government's Asbestos - A Guide for Householders and the General Public.
Council's Asbestos Policy, based on the Model Asbestos Policy for NSW Councils, details our commitment to asbestos management as an organisation and for the community, making roles and responsibilities clearer to help ensure the safe management and disposal of asbestos across our City.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the generic term for a number of fibrous silicate minerals. Asbestos was commonly used in cement sheeting (fibro), drainage and flue pipes, roofing, guttering and flexible building boards (for example Villaboard and Hardiflex). Similar cement sheeting products are used today, but are 'asbestos free'. It was also used in some car brake linings, clutches and gaskets.
Asbestos can be classified into 2 main types - 'friable' or 'non-friable'/bonded.
Friable asbestos is any material that contains asbestos and is in the form of a powder or can be easily crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder by hand pressure when dry. Examples of friable asbestos include, but are not limited to, asbestos lagging, sprayed insulation, millboard, felt and woven asbestos matting. Non-friable asbestos means any asbestos-containing material other than friable asbestos. Examples of non-friable asbestos include, but are not limited to, asbestos cement building products, vinyl floor tiles, friction materials, and any product where the asbestos is locked into the matrix.
Why can asbestos be a health risk?
Disturbing asbestos may cause asbestos fibres to become airborne and, if inhaled, can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. See the NSW Health Asbestos Fact Sheet
Where might you find asbestos?
Asbestos fibres were used widely in building materials before the mid-1980s. If your house was built or renovated before then, it is likely to contain asbestos cement building materials.
You may be surprised at the variety of products that were made from bonded asbestos cement, including fibro sheeting (flat and corrugated), water drainage and flue pipes, roofing shingles and guttering – even the backing of vinyl sheet floor coverings.
Read our Asbestos in the home factsheet.
What rules apply to protect people?
For the safety of workers and residents, Council imposes special conditions of development consent for demolition, renovation or recladding of brick veneer buildings built before 1987 due to the possible presence of asbestos.
A WorkCover Authority of NSW licence is required to remove more than 10m2 of bonded asbestos. A license is not required for smaller amounts, but precautions are still required to ensure its safe removal.
Friable asbestos must always be removed only by a WorkCover licensed friable asbestos removalist. You need a site specific permit from WorkCover to carry out this type of work.
Asbestos waste must be promptly disposed of to a landfill site licensed to accept it. There are also specific requirements for transporting asbestos. Refer to the Environment Protection Authority website for more information on transporting asbestos.
It is illegal to dispose of asbestos waste in domestic garbage bins. It is also illegal to recycle, re-use or dump asbestos products.
What is Council's role?
- assessment and regulation of building and demolition work involving asbestos
- advice and assessment in land contamination matters and remediation proposals
- investigation and regulation of unauthorised development involving filling with waste materials
- general information and encouraging awareness about asbestos
- clean-up of asbestos on public roads and public land in certain circumstances, where other organisations such as Workcover are not responsible
- investigation and regulation of illegal dumping (Waste and Community Protection / RID Squad).
- WorkCover Authority of NSW is responsible for regulating contractors engaged to remove asbestos materials on private properties, and asbestos in a workplace.