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Asbestos approach for DoE facilities

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This page outlines the department's approach to managing asbestos-containing material (ACM) in department-owned facilities.

Key strategies

The department has a comprehensive approach for managing asbestos-related risk in departmental facilities. This approach takes account of the:

  • department's responsibilities to meet the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Queensland Government asbestos management policy for its assets
  • department's highest priority of ensuring the safety of students, staff and visitors at all times.

The department's asbestos management approach includes:

  • the identification and registration of ACM in asbestos registers
  • periodic inspections of the condition of ACM
  • the use of asbestos warning signage
  • authorisation of works that may disturb building materials through Work Area Access Permits (WAAPs)
  • advice to workers and contractors about the presence of asbestos before work commences (asbestos registers provided with WAAPs)
  • procedures that outline employee responsibilities for managing safety
  • instructions to service providers, through the working on Department of Education facilities document, on departmental requirements prior to commencing work, during works and post works
  • progressive removal of ACM (based on risk)
  • education and awareness programs.

Asbestos management plan

The asbestos management plan (AMP) outlines how the department manages risks associated with asbestos by referencing relevant departmental procedures and the working on Department of Education facilities document. Sites with ACM are required to have a site-specific asbestos management plan that identifies the workplace parties with specific asbestos management roles. Non-ACM sites use the departmental generic AMP (PDF, 515KB).

The AMP aligns with the requirements of section 429 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and provides a transparent outline of the asbestos management arrangements in place to safeguard the health of students, departmental staff, service providers and visitors at departmental sites. The AMP provides the overarching framework for asbestos management within department-owned facilities.

Procedures

The department has a number of procedures that are designed to ensure in-situ ACM is maintained in a safe condition and that works that may disturb ACM have appropriate safety controls in place. The relevant procedures are listed below.

Built Environment Materials Information Register

It is compulsory for all officers in charge (OIC) of department-owned facilities to ensure the use of the Built Environment Materials Information Register (BEMIR) when any work, including maintenance, refurbishment, installation and construction, is being undertaken in department-owned facilities. BEMIR is an electronic environmental management system designed and managed by the Department of Housing, Local Government, Planning and Public Works (DHLGPPW) to assist government agencies with the management of environmentally significant matters within government-controlled facilities.

BEMIR:

  • provides access to asbestos registers that identify
    • building materials and plant that are assumed or confirmed to contain asbestos
    • assumed or confirmed ACMs that has been removed
    • facilities in which ACM has been discovered in/on grounds
    • the location, physical state and risk score (referred to as the BEMIR score) for ACM
  • enables creation of WAAPs that give authorisation for access to a specific facility work area/s to conduct maintenance, installation, refurbishment and construction related works The WAAP includes both general and special conditions of access.
  • provides functionality for incident management reports to be generated following a suspected departmental asbestos-related incident.

Role of QBuild

The Department of Housing, Local Government, Planning and Public Works has a lead agency role in asbestos management for ACM in government buildings. The department engages QBuild to:

  • manage a comprehensive asbestos audit program, which includes 3-yearly inspections of the condition of assumed and confirmed ACM at department-owned facilities
  • provide advice and support in relation to the department's management of in-situ asbestos
  • maintain the department's asbestos register.

Removal of asbestos

As stated in the Queensland Government asbestos management policy for its assets, the Queensland Government's long-term objective is for all government-controlled buildings to be free of ACM. Until this is achieved, the department has adopted the following asbestos-removal strategies.

  • All ACM identified as being in poor physical condition (physical state 1 or 2) or having a BEMIR score of 76 or greater will be made safe and scheduled for removal.
  • Consideration of removal of ACM as part of works planning for all capital and minor works projects. In particular, consideration will be given to the removal of all identified friable ACM in areas where refurbishment works are likely to require extensive disturbance and the need for excessive control measures to mitigate risk.

As a precautionary measure, departmental policy is that:

  • while ACM is being removed from a department-owned facility, only service providers are allowed onsite
  • while testing or maintenance is being undertaken on assumed or confirmed ACM, the area or room is cleared of students and staff and access is restricted whilst the service providers are working
  • low density board is only penetrated or disturbed as part of planned, licensed asbestos removal works.

Responsibilities

Officer in charge

Each departmental site has an officer in charge (OIC) who is responsible for implementing processes to manage risks associated with ACM within their facilities (i.e. school, regional office).

The OIC is required to complete an asbestos management course targeted to the OIC responsibilities outlined in the department's asbestos management procedures.

The OIC's responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

  • the authorisation and issue of WAAPs
  • ensuring school-based personnel who assist in asbestos management have participated in relevant departmental courses
  • ensuring regular visitors (anyone who regularly provides a service to a school or the department), volunteers, contractors, preservice teachers, and other adult students on placements complete the Mandatory All-Staff Training key messages guide (PDF, 2.5MB)
  • coordination of start work meetings before planned maintenance, refurbishment, installation, ACM removal or school managed construction works are commenced
  • the management of asbestos related incidents.

The OIC can formally delegate certain OIC responsibilities to delegates who have participated in OIC delegate courses.

OIC delegates

A departmental officer may qualify to be appointed as an OIC delegate if the officer holds a position at a level in the public service award AO3 (or equivalent position) and above.

Formally appointed OIC delegates may exercise OIC delegate responsibilities outlined in departmental procedures.

Departmental staff

Departmental procedures outline the requirements of departmental staff with respect to asbestos management. The procedures are available on the department's Policy and Procedure Register.

Advisors and stakeholders

The department has a number of stakeholder forums which are established to facilitate effective management of asbestos during construction related activities.

The department utilises internal expertise and engages external consultants, as required, to review internal processes for asbestos management, conduct investigations and provide information and support to staff and school communities in the event that an asbestos incident occurs.

Service providers

All service providers engaged to carry-out maintenance and construction related activities are required to adhere to the requirements outlined in working on Department of Education facilities.

The requirements include obtaining a WAAP from the facility before works commence. An extract of the relevant asbestos register is issued with the WAAP.

Parents and Citizens' Association members and volunteers

The department's asbestos management procedures outline actions that must be taken by departmental staff to ensure Parents and Citizens' Association members, volunteers and other visitors are aware of their asbestos management responsibilities while at departmental facilities. These responsibilities include not conducting work on ACM and obtaining a WAAP before any maintenance, installation, refurbishment and construction related works of any description is conducted.

Service providers operating department-owned early childhood education and care facilities

Departmental procedures outline the actions that must be taken by departmental staff to ensure early childhood education and care facilities owned by the department, that are operated by service providers, are aware of the presence of asbestos in the facilities. This information supports service providers' operational management of these facilities.

Legislation

Related policies and procedures

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Last updated 23 January 2024