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.
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, object, product or debris that contains asbestos. ACM can take several physical forms.
Asbestos-containing materials which include ceilings and wall sheeting, guttering, downpipes and vinyl flooring remain in departmental facilities and if in sound condition, do not pose a health risk unless disturbed.
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
- Managing asbestos in-situ and periodic inspections of ACM
- Asbestos warning signage
- Safe business procedures and work practices
- Progressive removal of ACM (based on risk)
- Education and awareness programs
- Asbestos registers (built environment materials information register)
- A 'work area access permit' process to control building-related work.
The department has detailed procedures for the management of asbestos in departmental facilities. These procedures have been included in the department's
Asbestos Management Plan for DoE Facilities (AMP) (DOC, 20.6MB) 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, Early Childhood Education and Care centres (ECEC), P&Cs, departmental regional and central offices and all service providers (including, but not limited to, building and asset services (BAS), BAS-engaged contractors, project services, and departmental- and P&C-engaged contractors/consultants).
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 Housing and Public Works (DHPW) to assist government agencies with the management of environmentally significant matters within government-controlled facilities.
There are three 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 reqired. The reports will also provide the data to compile information for whole of government reporting requirements.
The Department of Housing and Public Works will undertake a lead agency role on asbestos management for ACM in government buildings for providing advice and services to the department on the management of asbestos-containing material in their facilities.
The department engages BAS to undertake:
- Condition assessments of department-owned schools and educational workplaces. This includes an inspection of all building components known or suspected of containing asbestos. Where required, repairs and/or replacements are carried out using appropriate work procedures.
- A comprehensive asbestos inspection, including a review of the asbestos register for each department-owned site, is also to be conducted every three years (or more often as required by the type and/or condition of the asbestos-containing material) in line with the Queensland Government Asbestos Management Policy for its Assets.
- To 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.
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 and will implement the following strategies for the progressive removal of ACM based on risk:
- 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.
- In addition to this removal strategy, the progressive removal of ACM is to be considered for all capital and minor works projects involving the refurbishment and upgrade of existing facilities. Based on the likelihood of extensive disturbance to friable ACM, the need for excessive control measures to mitigate risk and cost as part of the refurbishment works, consideration will be given to the removal of all identified friable ACMs in the work area.
As a precautionary measure departmental policy is that whilst:
- ACM is being removed from a department-owned facility, no-one is to be on site, other than service providers.
- Testing of and/or maintenance is being undertaken on assumed or confirmed ACM, that the area or room is cleared of students and staff and access is restricted whilst the service providers are working.
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.
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 in BEMIR and departmental asbestos management policy and procedures prior to commencement in this role.
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.
The nominated officer must undertake departmental asbestos management induction training in BEMIR and departmental asbestos management policy and procedures prior to carrying out this role.
Predominately 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.
The nominated officer is responsible for:
- approval, issue and closure of WAAPs
- completion of incident management reports in BEMIR
- participation in the start-up meetings (schools, regional office only).
Where a potential asbestos-related matter arises, the nominated officer must consult the site's health and safety advisor (where applicable) and involve this officer in processes for any corrective action where required.
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
Decisions on asbestos management and incident investigation are undertaken in consultation with the Queensland Governments Advisory Agency (DHPW), EMB and Stakeholders.
DoE ISB 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.
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 centre staff
For department-owned ECEC facilities, the ECEC centre staff are required to adhere to this policy and their responsibilities as outlined in the departmental Asbestos Management Plan for DoE Facilities.
For additional detailed information pertaining to the management of asbestos please refer to the departmental
Asbestos Management Plan for DoE Facilities (DOC, 20.6MB).