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Safety in the workplace

Asbestos was used in over 3000 products in Australia before it was banned.

Asbestos is found in: 

  • many buildings or structures built or renovated before 1990 
  • brake pads and parts in cars, boats and machinery imported before Australia banned asbestos in 2003.  

If you work with older machinery, or on older worksites, there is a risk of asbestos exposure.  

Everyone has a right to a safe work environment. Whether you’re paid or not paid to work on a site, it’s a workplace, and workplace laws apply. Your employer must tell you about any risk of asbestos in your workplace, and stay up to date about safe asbestos management.  

If you manage a workplace, you are responsible for the health and safety of workers and the community. Everyone in the workplace – including commercial property owners – should know how to identify and respond to asbestos in the workplace. 

Could it be asbestos?

Learn how to identify asbestos in the workplace.
Inside a commercial building being renovated

Advice for trades and professionals 

There are strict guidelines for working with asbestos.  

If you’re working with asbestos, see the SafeWork NSW website for Codes of Practice, advice and resources. 

You must follow all NSW work health and safety (WHS) laws, including: 

Working on a residential property 

Asbestos is likely to be present in properties built before 1990. It’s important everyone on site understands the risks of asbestos and how to protect themselves and others.  

Before starting work, ask the homeowner, tenant or managing agent if they are aware of any asbestos in the building. If the answer is yes, you can still go ahead with the work with careful asbestos management. Use a licensed assessor to inspect and confirm asbestos, and a licensed asbestos removalist to remove. 

Working on a commercial property 

Every building constructed before 2004 that is a workplace should have an Asbestos Register recording the location and condition of asbestos in the building.  

Employees and contractor have a legal right to access the Asbestos Register. If the workplace doesn’t have an Asbestos Register, assume asbestos is present and use safe working practices. 

If you find asbestos in the workplace 

If you think you’ve found asbestos, use a licensed assessor to inspect and confirm.  

If the asbestos-containing material is in good condition and can be left alone, it is low risk.  

If the asbestos needs to be removed, use a licensed asbestos removalist