Asbestos

Asbestos is naturally occurring mineral fibre that has excellent fire resistance, insulation properties, fibre strength, durability and flexibility. As a result, asbestos was used extensively in manufacturing of products used in the construction and manufacturing industries between the 1940s to 1990s.

In the Northern Territory, many buildings were constructed using asbestos containing material, specifically in walls, ceilings, roofs, eaves, fire doors, floor tiles and in mechanical services plant rooms.

Asbestos containing material is classified into two categories, friable asbestos and non-friable asbestos.

  • Friable asbestos means material containing asbestos that can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder by hand pressure when dry.
  • Non-friable asbestos means material containing asbestos that is not friable, including material containing asbestos fibres reinforced with a bonding component.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen and inhalation of these fibres can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis after a long latency period. As a result, the use of asbestos has been banned in Australia.

When is a licensed asbestos removalist or assessor required?

Due to the safety risks involved, all asbestos should be removed by a business licensed to remove asbestos.

A person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure that the asbestos removal work is carried out by a business that has the appropriate licence to remove asbestos.

A licensed asbestos assessor is required during Class A asbestos removal work. The licensed asbestos assessor is required to conduct air monitoring, the clearance inspection and to issue the clearance certificate.

A licensed asbestos removalist or assessor is not required if the asbestos requiring removal is:

  • 10m2 or less of non-friable asbestos or asbestos contaminated dust or debris (ACD) associated with the removal of that amount of non-friable asbestos, or
  • ACD that is not associated with the removal of friable or non-friable asbestos and is only a minor contamination.

For information about licensing and competency requirements for asbestos removalists and assessors visit the licensing and registration asbestos page.

Importation of asbestos products

Asbestos is still widely used in some countries and despite a ban on importing asbestos into Australia, goods containing asbestos have been found at the Australian border. Information is available on the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency website on managing importation of asbestos into Australia.

Further information

  • The Australian Government has created the National Asbestos Exposure Register for members of the public to record their details if they are concerned they have been exposed to asbestos containing material.

    The Northern Territory Asbestos Register is now closed and members of the public who have concerns of exposure to asbestos containing material should now register their details on the national register.

    The Northern Territory Asbestos Register will be retained as evidence for future use.

  • The Asbestos Disease Support Society (ADSS) assists anyone who is affected by an asbestos related disease – whether directly or indirectly. ADSS is able to provide information as well as moral and emotional support to sufferers, carers, family members and friends.

Related Forms and Resources

Bulletins
Electrical switchboard panels and meter panels containing asbestos
Guides
Asbestos health monitoring
Codes of Practice
How to manage and control asbestos in the workplace
How to safely remove asbestos

A Safety Alert is an urgent, short communication that describes a work practice, incident or item that NT WorkSafe believes presents an immediate risk and requires corrective action. A Safety Alert provides background information, contributing factors and outlines controls, which NT WorkSafe has identified as practical measures that may assist eliminate or reduce the risk.

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