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Asbestos in the workplace: What are your duties as an employer?

Asbestos is a term used for a range of naturally-occurring, fibrous, silicon-based minerals. These highly versatile minerals were once used across many industries until the health risks associated with inhaling asbestos fibres became apparent.

Although Asbestos was banned in Australia in 2003, it is still commonly found in many workplaces. According to Safe Work Australia, the construction, manufacturing and public administration industries are particularly vulnerable to asbestos exposure; with trade workers, labourers and machinery operators and drivers at the most risk. [1]

What are your duties as an employer?

Employers have a legal duty to eliminate or reduce so far as is reasonably practicable, the risk to anyone in their workplace to airborne asbestos fibres. If you manage or control a workplace, it’s your responsibility to identify and manage the risks associated with asbestos.

Requirements include:

  • Assessing the risk of exposure to airborne asbestos;
  • Providing a current asbestos register, and ensuring it is readily accessible to employees;
  • Using the asbestos register to reduce risks as soon as practicable;
  • Providing workers with the necessary information, training and supervision. [2]
Although dangerous when disturbed, asbestos can be safely handled when the right processes are used. Adopting appropriate control measures will ensure the safety of your employees.

Have you been exposed to Asbestos?

If you believe you have come into contact with asbestos, no matter how recently, it is important to get in touch with an expert in asbestos law. Shine Lawyers has developed a National Asbestos Register to help identify potential affected groups and track asbestos exposure across Australia. If you have been exposed to asbestos, join the Australian Register here. Registration is free of charge and will assist in any future litigation that may arise.


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Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: April 29, 2018.

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