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Asbestos policy for DoE facilities

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​This policy provides an overview for the management of asbestos-containing material (ACM) in department-owned facilities.

Detailed procedures and responsibilities have been included in the department's Asbestos Management Plan for DoE Facilities (AMP) (DOC, 20.6MB) which is to be read in conjunction with this policy.

Legislation

Related policies and procedures

Statement of intent

Asbestos is the common term used to describe a naturally-occurring fibrous mineral that was used extensively prior to 1990 by Australian industry because of its durability, fire resistance and excellent thermal insulating properties.

The term 'asbestos-containing material' (ACM) refers to any material or product that contains asbestos as part of its design. ACM can take several physical forms.

Asbestos-containing materials including ceiling sheets and tiles, wall sheeting, guttering, downpipes and vinyl flooring remain in departmental facilities and if in sound condition, do not pose a health risk unless disturbed in an uncontrolled way.

Key strategies

Appropriate measures are needed to ensure that ACM is managed and potential asbestos-related risks are controlled. The following measures have been developed and adopted by the department, based on the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and the Queensland Government asbestos management policy for its assets, and form part of a comprehensive framework for managing asbestos-related risks in departmental facilities.

  • Identification and registration of ACM (asbestos registers)
  • Periodic inspections of ACM
  • Indicating the presence of asbestos (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)
  • Safe business procedures and work practices
  • Progressive removal of ACM (based on risk)
  • Education and awareness programs

Asbestos Management Plan

The department has detailed procedures for the management of asbestos in departmental facilities and processes for managing asbestos incidents. These have been included in the department's Asbestos Management Plan for DoE Facilities (AMP) and must be read in conjunction with this policy.

The policy and AMP must be adhered to at all times by educational workplaces including Schools, for Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) assets, Parents and Citizens Associations (P&Cs), departmental regional and central offices and all service providers (including, but not limited to, QBuild, QBuild-engaged contractors and departmental and P&C-engaged contractors/consultants).

Built Environment Materials Information Register

It is compulsory for all building managers 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 Energy and Public Works (DEPW) to assist government agencies with the management of environmentally significant matters within government-controlled facilities.

There are 3 critical asbestos management components of BEMIR. These include the:

  • Asbestos register – electronic register which identifies the assumed or confirmed presence of asbestos within buildings/grounds as well as items that have been removed. The register details the locations, physical state and BEMIR score for asbestos-containing material.
  • Work area access permit (WAAP) – written and signed authorisation to service providers granting conditional access to specific work area/s in a facility for all maintenance, installation, refurbishment, and construction related works, of any description. The WAAP includes both – general and special conditions of access.
  • Incident management report (IMR) – tool used for recording and reporting of asbestos-related incidents. These reports assist in preparation of communication and briefs where required. The reports will also provide the data to compile information for whole of government reporting requirements.

Role of QBuild

The Department of Energy and Public Works has a lead agency role on asbestos management for ACM in government buildings. The department engages QBuild to:

  1. manage a comprehensive asbestos audit program, which includes three-yearly inspections of assumed and confirmed ACM at department-owned sites
  2. provide advice and support in relation to all asbestos-related matters including the management of in-situ ACM, corrective actions where required and the updating of the central asbestos register in BEMIR to reflect the current status of ACM.

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:

  1. 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, to ensure the on-going well-being of all building occupants.
  2. Consideration of progressive removal of ACM for all capital and minor works projects involving the refurbishment and upgrade of existing facilities. 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 to friable ACM and the need for excessive control measures to mitigate risk.

As a precautionary measure, departmental policy is that:

  1. while ACM is being removed from a department-owned facility, only service providers are allowed onsite (unless otherwise authorised in line with Asbestos Management Plan requirements)
  2. 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
  3. low density board is only penetrated or disturbed as part of planned, licensed asbestos removal works.

Responsibilities

A detailed list of all departmental officers, associated entities and service providers responsibilities have been included in the department's Asbestos Management Plan for DoE Facilities (AMP) (DOC, 20.6MB). The AMP is to be read in conjunction with this policy for details of all roles and responsibilities in relation to asbestos management in departmental facilities.

Building manager

Each departmental site has a building manager who is responsible for implementing processes to manage risks associated with asbestos-containing materials within their facilities (i.e. school, regional office).

The building manager must undertake departmental asbestos management team training prior to commencement in this role.

The building manager’s responsibilities include (but not limited to):

  • the creation, authorisation and issue of WAAPs
  • presentation of annual asbestos awareness presentations to all staff and Parents and Citizens Association (P&C) executive members
  • coordination of start-up meetings before planned maintenance, refurbishment, installation, ACM removal or school managed construction works are commenced
  • creation of Incident Management Reports.

The building manager for schools and regional office can formally delegate part of their role to nominated officers at their site.

Where a potential asbestos-related matter arises, the building manager must consult the site's health and safety advisor (where applicable) and involve this officer in processes for any corrective action where required.

Nominated officer

The nominated officer must undertake departmental asbestos management training prior to carrying out this role.

A nominated officer should be a departmental officer who holds a position at a level in the public service award AO3 and above, or a promotional teaching position in a head of program or school leader position.

Nominated officers are responsible for any building manager’s responsibilities that have been formally delegated to them, including for WAAPs, Incident Management Reports, coordination of start-up meetings, and consultation on any asbestos-related corrective actions.

Departmental staff

All departmental staff are required to adhere to departmental policy and procedures for the management of ACM and have a duty of care to inform the relevant officers of any disturbance or concerns with any building materials.

Advisors and stakeholders

A number of forums are established to ensure asbestos-related matters are considered with the department’s key stakeholders for the management of asbestos.

The department's Infrastructure Services Division will engage external consultants as required to review internal processes, conduct investigations and provide information and support to staff and school communities where asbestos incidents occur.

Service providers

All service providers are required to adhere to departmental policy and procedures for the management of ACM in department-owned facilities.

P&Cs and volunteers

All P&C members and volunteers are required to adhere to departmental policy and procedures for the management of ACM in department-owned facilities.

ECEC asset staff

For department-owned ECEC assets, the ECEC staff are required to adhere to this policy and their responsibilities as outlined in the departmental Asbestos Management Plan for DoE Facilities.

More information

For additional detailed information pertaining to the management of asbestos please refer to the departmental Asbestos Management Plan for DoE Facilities.​

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Last updated 29 April 2022