Managing asbestos in government buildings

The Department of Finance provides a service to Government agencies to manage their buildings in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Government agency responsibilities

This service is guided by the report Managing Asbestos in Western Australian Government Buildings, prepared by the advisory Asbestos Steering Committee.

The report outlines the current public sector asbestos management framework:

  • compliance with asbestos legislation and policy. Individual Government agencies are responsible for this. It cannot be delegated to third parties
  • occupational safety and health advice from the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (WorkSafe WA)
  • building asset management advice and works procurement from the Department of Finance¬†

The report does not support a whole-of-government program to remove asbestos containing materials (ACM) from Government buildings. Such a program could increase short term risks to health, be too much work for the industry to handle, and place an unreasonable cost on Government.

The committee supports removing ACM where there a health risk, or as part of other building work (such as renovation or demolition). This approach is best practice, supported by Australian and international evidence.

These documents may help agencies manage their asbestos obligations:

The Asbestos Booklet shows safe work practices for dealing with asbestos. It tells building maintenance contractors how to work safely with ACMs.

Inspection and assessment

The Department arranges registers of buildings with ACMs for Government agencies. The registers help agencies meet the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 (WA).

To keep the register current, occupational health inspectors regularly inspect buildings containing ACMs. The inspectors are part of a panel of experts run by the Department. Inspectors collect data of all ACMs on site, including the amount and condition of ACMs. They check whether it might be disturbed and create a health risk.

ACMs in poor condition are inspected more often. WorkSafe accepts inspections every three years for low risk ACMs. Any disturbance of ACMs between inspections must be acted on immediately.

Page reviewed 28 October 2019