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What is Asbestos?

Construction worker | Shine Lawyers

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is commonly found in building materials. Asbestos was widely used in the building industry due to its cheapness and heat-resistant qualities, but was banned completely in 2003 for health and safety reasons.

Why is asbestos dangerous?

If you inhale asbestos, the fibres can catch in your lungs and produce scarring, inflammation and lead to asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestos can take decades to manifest into a disease so the effects are often unknown for some time.

Asbestos only becomes a health risk when the asbestos fibres are inhaled. Solid asbestos products, such as asbestos cement, pose no threat if they are undisturbed. However, if the product is damaged or crumbling, fibres can be released into the air.

Different types of asbestos products

There are two types of asbestos products: friable and bonded.

Friable products

Friable asbestos products are loose, easily-crumbled by hand and usually contain high levels of asbestos. This means the asbestos fibres can become airborne, making it extremely dangerous for people nearby. Friable asbestos products include:

  • Heat resistant fabrics
  • Spray-on insulation and soundproofing
  • Low-density fibre board

Bonded products

Bonded asbestos products are solid and non-friable. They are made by combining a small proportion of asbestos with a bonding compound such as cement. Bonded asbestos products include:

  • Roofing, eaves
  • Wall cladding
  • Fencing

Asbestos use in Australia

Before the mid-1980s, asbestos products were widely used throughout Australia.

Asbestos in the home

If your home was built after 1990, it's unlikely that asbestos products were used. However, a total ban on asbestos wasn't introduced until the end of 2003. If you do find asbestos in your home, it's important not to disturb it. Unbroken asbestos products are usually considered safe as long as they stay in an undisturbed state.

Legally, you are permitted to remove asbestos yourself but considering the potential health risks involved, it is recommended you enlist the help of a professional. Specially trained asbestos removalists can remove and dispose of the asbestos safely, without risking exposure.

Asbestos at work

Employers are now required to ensure any asbestos in the workplace is clearly identified. Legislation also requires strict records to be kept. These include a register which must be regularly maintained by the employer, and a written asbestos management plan.

Shine Lawyers - Asbestos Compensation Experts

Shine Lawyers has a team of carefully selected specialists who are solely dedicated to asbestos and dust disease cases.

If you have been in contact with asbestos, or have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, our legal staff are available for an obligation-free consultation to inform you of your options.

Register with our free Australian Asbestos Register to record your asbestos exposure and assist in any future compensation claims that may arise.

Learn more about the legal process and how you can access compensation with our simple, step-by-step guide to personal injury claims:

Our offer to you

  • Obligation-free consultation to assess your case confidentially

  • Claim assessment process where we will explain all of the options available to you

  • We can come to you - if you can't make it into the office we're more than happy to come to you

  • No Win No Fee arrangement

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Featured lawyer: Roger Singh

Featured lawyer: Roger Singh

Roger Singh is a Senior Partner at Shine Lawyers with experience in Asbestos compensation claims. He has successfully handled some of the firms most complex and challenging litigation.

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