Electrical switchboard panels and meter panels containing asbestos

This information bulletin was developed to assist industry, electrical contractors and electricians with the compliance requirements in the manufacturing of electrical switchboards and meter panels, and the hazards associated with older panels.

Hazards associated with older electrical switchboard panels and meter panels containing asbestos

An asbestos hazard exists for electrical contractors and electrical workers carrying out alterations or additions to older electrical switchboard panels and meter panels manufactured from an asbestos/resin or asbestos/coal tar pitch composite.

The panels are usually a dark brown or black colour, have a rough fibrous or wood like surface finish and may have a strong tar smell about them.

Brand names such as Lebah, Zelemite, Miscolite and Ausbestos may be stamped on the rear of the panels.

Picture of rear Ausbestos panel

Electrical contractors and workers should be aware that drilling, cutting, sanding or water blasting these panels may release harmful asbestos fibres. Meter boxes fitted with such panels may contain loose (friable) asbestos fibres.

Where possible the old panels containing asbestos should be replaced with modern materials available from electrical wholesalers.

If work is to be undertaken on asbestos panels then a risk assessment and asbestos management plan must be prepared. Refer to the resources below for guidance. Both are available from the NT WorkSafe website.

Further information

Manufacturing requirements

  1. Switchboards and Meter Panels shall be manufactured to comply with AS/NZS 3000-2018 Section 2 and the requirements of the network operator (e.g. Power and Water Corporation).
  2. The fact that a switchboard or meter panel has been manufactured and delivered to site, or is already in position and/or in service, will not be regarded as sufficient reason for its acceptance should it not be constructed in accordance with the requirements.

Codes of Practice