Exposure to asbestos fibres in the atmosphere could lead to a terminal illness. Such illness can take 10 to 20 years to manifest. Asbestos may be found in many places including insulation, wall and floor tiles, electrical switchboards, roofs, fences and lagging on pipes. Most forms of asbestos found in buildings are not hazardous unless their surface has been damaged. It is most unlikely that asbestos will be located in buildings erected after 1983.
To minimise the risk to health due to exposure to asbestos in the workplace the Occupation Health Safety and Welfare Act requires that an asbestos register is created and maintained for buildings other than residences.
A ‘Nil Asbestos Statement’ should be obtained from a qualified asbestos inspector or professional builder for a building free of asbestos.
It is the responsibility of each Church Council or congregation to provide the Synod Office, with a Nil Asbestos Statement’so that this information becomes part of a master register.
An asbestos register must be commissioned by all congregations for each building on the church property and updated annuallyor whenever any new work is carried out on the asbestos or in an asbestos affected area. The register must also be available, upon request, to any person (employed, voluntary or contracted) undertaking work on the site. It must also be available to employees upon termination of their employment.
A copy of the asbestos register and its updates must be kept at the church property and at the Synod office. The asbestos register must be kept for thirty (30) years following the most recent entry in the records.
Because of the high risk associated with asbestos exposure:-
- Any management recommendations made in a asbestos register must be carried out;
- All work is carried out by a certified asbestos removalist. (Electricians are authorised to replace asbestos board contained in meter boxes);
- Work on asbestos products or in affected areas must only be undertaken be accredited contractors. Church volunteers are specifically precluded for undertaking this work. Refer to SafeWork SA’s website (see link below) for current Asbestos Removal Licence Holders.
- The public should be precluded from areas containing asbestos when work in these areas is being undertaken
- Correct work health & safety procedures must be followed by the contractors working on the site.