Whole of Government Management of Asbestos Issues
New Asbestos Licensing Scheme for WA
A licence is required in Western Australia for the removal of materials that contain asbestos. Only a licence holder or an employee of a licence holder may carry out this type of work.
There are two types of licence:
Unrestricted: which allows people to remove all forms of asbestos (friable and non-friable) and replaces the current asbestos removal licence
Restricted: Commencing June 2010, allowing people to remove amounts exceeding 10 square metres of bonded (non-friable) asbestos.
Asbestos Steering Committee Report
The Asbestos Steering Committee (ASC), an advisory committee established by the former Department of Housing and Works in August 2006, has finalised a report titled Managing Asbestos in Western Australian Government Buildings. The report outlines the ASC’s findings and recommendations in respect to its terms of reference.
In its report the ASC notes it:
prepared a range of documents to assist Government agencies to comply with their asbestos management obligations, including Asbestos Management – Guide for Agencies, an Asbestos Management Plan (AMP) template and Asbestos Booklet, all of which can be accessed through the DTF website
does not support a whole-of-Government systematic program to remove asbestos containing materials (ACMs) from Government buildings. The ASC notes that such a program is likely to increase short term risks to health, encounter industry capacity constraints and place an untenable cost impost on Government. The ASC supports best practice Australian and international evidence that suggest the removal of ACMs should be undertaken when health risks are present or the opportunity to remediate presents, such as during building renovation or demolition. In other circumstances the management of ACMs in situ is recommended
supports the current asbestos management framework within the WA public sector in which responsibility and accountability for compliance with relevant legislation and policy rest with individual Government agencies, supported by occupational safety and health advice from the Department of Commerce (WorkSafe) and building asset management advice and works procurement from the DTF. Having reviewed relevant Acts, Regulations, Codes of Practice and policy frameworks the ASC concludes agency responsibility and accountability can not be delegated to third parties or central agencies/committees.
The ASC also reports that some Government agencies have been slow to recognise and progress their obligations for asbestos management in the workplace, despite two directives in the past five years instructing agencies to develop asbestos registers and asbestos management plans. Government agencies are requested to implement immediate actions to establish asbestos registers and asbestos management plans, if they have not already done so.
In its report the ASC make seven specific operational recommendations. The DTF is actioning the first six recommendations, and the Department of Commerce has agreed to action the seventh.
The ASC makes two further broad recommendations. The first of these the ASC notes is outside its terms of reference. The second relates to building maintenance funding, and is already being addressed by the DTF through the Works Reform program.
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