Updates: The ACT government has recently passed new laws relating to dealing with asbestos.

Updates: The ACT government has recently passed new laws relating to dealing with asbestos. Photo: Virginia Star

The ACT government has recently passed new laws when dealing with asbestos that will take effect from January 1, 2015. The new laws will include new regulations and two codes of practice developed by Safe Work Australia.

The key changes in the regulations remove the old rule where anyone could remove bonded asbestos if the area was less than 10 square metres. After January 1, 2015, the removal of bonded asbestos will now have to be carried out by a licensed asbestos removalist.

The only exemption to the above requirement is when the work is minor or routine maintenance. An example may be if asbestos sheeting is fixed to a wall in a bathroom or laundry and an electrician is putting in a new powerpoint.

I expect the penalties will be significant if you are found working with and removing asbestos. These laws and fines will also apply to home handymen and do-it-yourself builders and renovators.


Worksafe ACT will be releasing further details to both industry and the public shortly.

The new laws will change the licensing requirements for asbestos assessors and removalists by lifting the qualifications and training required to conduct the above type of work.

Another component of the amended regulations clears up some terminology and clearly replaces old terms such as a ‘competent person’ with ‘licensed asbestos assessor’. Also, some additional signage will be required when renovating a building when asbestos is present.

My message to everyone, especially DIY renovators, is please get some asbestos-awareness training. It is a risk not worth taking for the well-being of you, your family and friends. Once the fibres enter your lungs it can’t be reversed, so eliminate the risk.

The Housing Industry Association runs asbestos awareness training for industry and the public. They only take four hours and are a valuable piece of knowledge for anyone who likes doing their own repairs. Once armed with this training you will have the knowledge to identify where asbestos could be present and then engage a qualified asbestos assessor to carry out an assessment.

If asbestos is present get it removed by a qualified asbestos removalist. Spend the money and have asbestos removed and disposed of properly.

For example, asbestos can be present in many forms. It is often in putty that was used to hold in panes of glass in old timber windows and doors. Just by chiselling out old putty could release asbestos fibres. Get trained.

Neil Evans is the Housing Industry Association’s ACT and southern NSW executive director