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Tradespeople and professionals

Tradespeople and professionals involved in the maintenance, construction or renovation of buildings are likely to be exposed to asbestos at work.

Homes and commercial buildings built before 1990 may contain asbestos. There were over 3000 asbestos-containing products used before asbestos was banned in 2003. 

There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. If you think it might be asbestos, treat it like it is. 

Get trained about asbestos and make sure your workplace has the right procedures to keep you and others safe. 

Visit the SafeWork NSW website for Codes of Practice, safety and training resources and the Asbestos Awareness and Safety Course. 

Find out where asbestos might be

Use the Asbestos Checker to see what products might contain asbestos.
Two construction workers wearing safety helmets and gloves carrying a wooden beam.

Which trades might find asbestos?

Trades who may find asbestos on the work site include:

  • bricklayers
  • builders and carpenters
  • electricians
  • joiners
  • painters
  • plumbers
  • roofers
  • tilers
  • engineers
  • waste and recycling workers
  • excavator operators
  • demolition
  • glaziers
  • emergency services workers
  • pest sprayers
  • air conditioning
  • floor finishers
  • Mechanics.

Construction trades that might find asbestos  

You may need to be aware of the risks of asbestos if you: 

  • renovate or repair homes built and renovated before 1990 
  • install kitchens 
  • repair or renovate bathrooms 
  • repair heating and air conditioning systems 
  • interact with insulation 
  • fix roofs and guttering 
  • install solar panelling 
  • disturb external cladding. 

Asbestos materials are found in flooring, roofs, ceilings, and walls, as well as outside sheds, fences and gardens. 

Rubbish removalists and asbestos safety 

Always be alert to the potential presence of asbestos when handling waste. 

While it is illegal to dump asbestos in rubbish bins and skip bins, it can still happen. If you disturb asbestos fibres while emptying a bin, this can put your health at risk

Telecommunications technicians, landscapers and asbestos safety 

If you’re digging in areas where old outhouses, garages, fences or chook sheds stood, you could dig up buried asbestos. It might also be buried under existing structures. 

This is a risk for trades like telecommunications technicians and landscapers – or any trades that dig. Be asbestos aware when you are installing underground cables or digging trenches.  

If you find buried asbestos, stop work immediately and call a licensed asbestos removalist

Mechanics and asbestos safety 

If you work on imported vehicles, boats or old cars you may find asbestos when working on brakes and gaskets.  

If you’re not sure if it’s asbestos, treat it like it is and call a licensed asbestos assessor

Asbestos awareness and safety training 

Before working in older buildings, trades should complete asbestos awareness training. Asbestos awareness training is a requirement for anyone whose normal work involves a reasonable likelihood of disturbing or coming into contact with asbestos. 

Training helps you:   

  • understand the dangers of asbestos 
  • learn safe asbestos handling and control procedures
  • know the right protective gear and precautions 
  • recognise potential asbestos-containing materials  
  • understand your rights and responsibilities about workplace safety and asbestos 
  • learn the health impacts of asbestos exposure

SafeWork NSW has launched an online Asbestos Awareness and Safety Course to provide tradespeople and other workers with further education on how to best protect themselves when handling products containing asbestos.

Employers who encourage their workers to complete the course also meet their legal obligations to provide asbestos awareness training to workers who are likely to encounter asbestos on the job.

Register for the course online via the Construct NSW Digital Learning Platform.