FAQ's

What is the role of your agency? What does ASEA do?

The agency was established in 2013 with the aim ‘to prevent exposure to airborne asbestos fibres in order to eliminate asbestos-related disease in Australia’. The agency coordinates a national strategy across state, territory and the Australian Government, and undertakes research and promotion which contributes to this aim.

What is the National Strategic Plan?

The agency works towards the elimination of asbestos-related disease in Australia through the six goals of the National Strategic Plan (NSP). These are: awareness; best practice; identification; removal; research; and international leadership. The NSP provides a national framework to support all levels of government to work cooperatively and independently to achieve the objectives of the plan.

Why do you need to refer me to the regulator – why can’t ASEA help me?

We are not a regulatory body. Our role is coordination, research and promotion of asbestos safety and the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness.

Depending upon the circumstances, the agency is able to provide contact details for the relevant regulator or responsible authority, be it a workplace regulator (WorkSafe/ SafeWork), the relevant environment protection authority (EPA) or waste/ development officers at local government level. These bodies will be better placed to respond to your concerns or provide you with direct advice about your situation.

How do I know if my house contains asbestos?

As a general rule,

if your house was built before the mid-1980s, it is highly likely that it would have asbestos containing materials such as:

  • Fibro house
  • Brick veneer
  • See our website for examples of products and other types of houses

if it was built between the mid-1980s and 1990, it is likely to have asbestos containing materials
if your house was built after 1990, it is unlikely that it would have asbestos containing materials.

If you’re in doubt, treat it like the material is asbestos and don’t interfere with it. Therefore don’t cut it, drill into it, sand it or disturb it in any way.

We suggest that a residential asbestos survey be completed which will help you identify asbestos and work out what needs to be undertaken to minimise risks. You can refer to the section on getting an asbestos inspection on our website.

The only way to truly tell whether something contains asbestos is to have a sample of the suspected material tested by a NATA accredited laboratory. To find an accredited laboratory in your area, you can visit their website at www.nata.com.au or visit the section on asbestos sampling and testing on our website.

How do I know if a product contains asbestos?

The only way to truly tell whether something is or isn’t asbestos is to have a sample of the suspected material tested by a NATA accredited laboratory. To find an accredited lab in your area, you can visit their website at www.nata.com.au or alternatively call your state or territory WHS regulator.

You can also visit http://asbestosawareness.com.au/asbestos-in-the-home/ for a guided but not comprehensive list of products that could potentially contain asbestos.

If you’re unsure of how to take a sample safely, we recommend you engage an experienced asbestos consultant to do it for you. We recommend calling the NATA accredited laboratory for advice and assistance in taking the sample.

If you’re going to collect a sample yourself, follow the steps for sampling detailed on our website.

More detailed instructions are set out in Appendix A of the How to Safely Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace Code of Practice

Stickers, labels etc. on high-risk goods that indicate ‘asbestos free’ may not necessarily be reliable due to an absence of standard labelling. If in doubt, assume it contains asbestos until confirmed.

How do I get a product tested for asbestos?

The only way to truly tell whether something is or isn’t asbestos is to have a sample of the suspected material tested by a NATA accredited laboratory. To find an accredited lab in your area, you can visit their website at www.nata.com.au or alternatively call your state or territory WHS regulator.

If you’re unsure of how to take a sample safely, we recommend you engage an experienced asbestos consultant to do it for you. We recommend calling the NATA accredited laboratory for advice and assistance in taking the sample.

If you’re going to collect a sample yourself, follow the steps for sampling detailed on our website.

More detailed instructions are set out in Appendix A of the How to Safely Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace Code of Practice

What do I do if the material contains asbestos? How do I manage it? Should I have it removed?

If the material is

  • in a good stable condition
  • left undisturbed,
  • is not damaged and
  • is in its bonded form,

it is unlikely to release asbestos fibres into the air and is a minimal risk. It is recommended the materials be monitored for any wear and tear signs on a regular basis.

If the material is damaged or disturbed in any way, we recommend engaging a licensed asbestos removalist to remove the asbestos for you.

Some precautionary measures can be taken and we recommend you visit our website or the guidance on www.asbestosawareness.com.au for information on this.

If the damage is to a wall containing asbestos and it is cracked, you should seal the crack with a sealant such as PVA glue, polyfiller or paint. Be sure not to sand back or cause the crack to widen as this may cause fibres to be released. If there is more damage, the entire wall sheeting may need to be replaced and the old wall sheeting disposed of correctly.

In some states and territories, you are able to remove up to 10m² of non-friable/bonded asbestos yourself (this excludes loose-fill asbestos, Mr Fluffy and any other forms of friable asbestos). For regulations around this we recommend contacting your state or territory WHS regulator.

I rent my home, what can I do if I am concerned there is asbestos in it?

In the first instance you can contact your real estate agent or landlord to discuss your concerns with them.

For further information on your tenant rights you can visit your state/territory Fair Trading website or the Rental Tribunal for further advice. Situations are assessed on a case by case basis.

In the meantime, it is recommended that you do not disturb the areas you think might contain asbestos, in other words, no drilling, sanding, cutting, scraping, dismantling, waterblasting or any other activity that may result in the release of airborne fibres.

If you live in an apartment or unit complex that is managed by a strata body or body corporate, it may be considered a commercial building. If the building was constructed prior to 31 December 2013, the strata body or body corporate must have an asbestos register. You should contact your local state or territory WHS regulator. if you have any concerns about the absence or integrity of the asbestos register.

How do I engage a licensed asbestos removalist or assessor? Where I can I find contact details for these tradespeople?

You can contact your state or territory WHS regulator. On most of their websites they will have a list of licensed removalists that you can contact to assist you.

I am a licensed asbestos removalist/assessor. Do I need to notify my state/territory Work Health and Safety (WHS) regulator prior to commencing works?

Yes, you should contact your local state or territory WHS regulator at least five days in advance by writing. For more details please call your state or territory WHS regulator.

If you have already commenced works due to an emergency, please phone your local state or territory WHS regulator immediately and then you must notify them by writing within 24 hours.

I think I have some damaged asbestos in the backyard from a previous tenant/owner, how can I tell it is asbestos and how do I get it removed?

The only way to truly tell whether something is or isn’t asbestos is to have a sample of the suspected material tested by a NATA accredited laboratory. To find an accredited laboratory in your area, you can visit their website at www.nata.com.au or alternatively call your state or territory WHS regulator.

We recommend contacting your local council or EPA. They will be able to advise you of any actions that should take place prior to the asbestos being removed. A licensed removalist should remove the asbestos and deposit it to a waste disposal facility that accepts asbestos waste. Use the 'search for a disposal facility near you' search engine on our website for a comprehensive list of facilities.

What is the National Asbestos Exposure Register? Why should I register on it?

The National Asbestos Exposure Register (NAER) is a register to record the details of members of the community who think they may have been exposed to asbestos.

The purpose of the NAER is to gather data for statistical analysis of potential or actual exposure to asbestos to allow the agency to remain informed about potential risks through registration trends.

The NAER will provide you with a record of having registered your concerns with us at a point in time. All information gathered by us is kept confidential and is subject to privacy legislation.

It is important to note that this register is not used for testing of asbestos, medical surveillance or a register of the location of asbestos.

How do I make changes, delete or retrieve my NAER Record?

To make changes, delete or retrieve your NAER record you will need to email enquiries@asbestossafety.gov.au. Due to privacy requirements, ASEA staff will need to verify that you are the registrant and will ask you for the exact details that you have provided to us at the time of registration, please include the registration identification number if you have this.

Required information includes:

  • Registration ID Number
  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Address
  • Phone Number

Are there any subsidies for the removal of asbestos from my home?

We are unaware of any subsidies within Australia that are currently taking place.

The agency does not have a regulatory role. This is the responsibility of the state/territory governments. We suggest contacting them to enquire about any local initiatives they may have. For example: the Loose-fill Asbestos Taskforce in NSW and the ACT Taskforce.

I think I have loose-fill/Mr Fluffy asbestos in my roof. Can I register for free testing?

The ‘free’ testing in NSW was a part of the NSW Loose-fill Asbestos Taskforce run throughout 2016. It closed on 1 August 2016. For further information contact NSW Fair Trading.

The ACT Taskforce provides a single point of contact for those in the ACT community who are affected by, or have concerns about loose-fill asbestos.

We recommend that a licensed asbestos assessor is engaged to assess your home for contamination. You can refer to our guidance on the website for information on getting an asbestos inspection.

Does an asbestos assessment have to be completed before purchasing/selling a property?

It is not required by law for you to obtain an asbestos assessment prior to purchasing or selling a property.

You may wish to consider undertaking an asbestos assessment prior to purchasing a property. Asbestos in poor condition will need to be removed or managed and this might be a financial consideration during the sale process.

I would like to import some asbestos containing products, how do I apply for permission?

All permits must be approved by the Minister or an authorised person who oversees the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011 for reasons of research, analysis or display only. 

Laboratories or consultants are encouraged to apply for permission to import asbestos for the purposes of testing, so that importers can be sure that the goods they are bringing into Australia are asbestos-free.

To apply for permission, you must write to the Minister, explaining your situation. ASEA can provide a comprehensive list of information which must be included in applications. For further information please review the page on applying for a permit on our website.

ASEA is responsible for advising the Minister on applications for permissions to import/export samples of asbestos and can also assist you with your application. Please feel free to contact us for guidance.

The onus is on the importer/exporter to ensure they do not import/export asbestos into Australia.

I’ve (previously) been exposed to asbestos in my workplace. What action should I take?

  • Register on the NAER
  • Contact your state or territory WHS regulator and advise them of the exposure (if it’s a recent incident it will need to be investigated)
  • Seek medical advice from your GP
  • Seek legal advice if you have an asbestos-related disease (ARD)

My neighbour is doing renovations/there are works being carried out near me and I’m concerned they are removing asbestos illegally/unsafely as there is a lot of dust about. What should I do about this?

Your first point of contact should be your local council. The agency does not have an regulatory role and is unable to assist in this instance.

Without an assessment we are unable to advise whether the work area is safe to be around.

Does insurance cover damage to asbestos? Such as in a natural disaster?

Insurance coverage varies with each insurance company. We suggest contacting your insurer and discussing your options with them.

The disaster recovery planning prepared by your state and territory government regularly includes contingencies and funding to clean up asbestos following an emergency. It is very important that you follow instructions issued by the disaster recovery agencies in your state, territory or local government area as they are developed specifically to prevent unnecessary exposure to asbestos fibres caused by damaged asbestos materials.

The safe removal and disposal of asbestos from a damaged property is critical. Contacting your local council and state emergency services is a good place to start if faced with building damage from a fire, flood or other natural disaster.

For further information on the policy for NSW please visit their website and the document on NSW Asbestos Emergency Plan.

I’m concerned I might have breathed in asbestos. Could I get sick/cancer?

If you are concerned about medical issues we recommend you consult your GP.

The Asbestos Support Group Network comprises of support groups that exist throughout Australia who may be able to provide advice, counselling and other forms of assistance. You can find the contact details for the support group in your state or territory on the contacts page on our website.

I’m an employer, what are my obligations to ensure employee work health and safety?

If you are a licensed asbestos removalist/assessor or employer of industries where there is a potential for your employees to be exposed to asbestos on a frequent and over an extended period of time, you have a duty of care to refer them to health check ups.

These health check ups may be conducted by a medical professional associated with your workplace, please check with your WHS/ HR unit, or call a Support Group who can refer you to one.

These health check ups consist of a baseline check up (conducted prior to commencement of employment) and then once every two years following the baseline consultation.

I’d like to report some illegal dumping of asbestos/contaminated land near me. Who should I report this to?

Your first point of contact should be your local council or EPA. The agency does not have a regulatory role and is unable to assist in this instance. The state or territory WHS regulator will be able to investigate further for you.

Generally the responsibility for asbestos lies with the owner of the land so it will depend on the site where the asbestos is as to who to contact.

Helpful contacts

If there is an asbestos safety emergency or you have other workplace safety, DIY, environmental or health concerns regarding asbestos please contact the relevant authority in your jurisdiction. Regulators and other useful state and territory contact details can be found here.