Asbestos and demolition
Construction work requirements in the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (WHS Regulation) apply to demolition work generally, however, where the structure to be demolished contains asbestos, there are some additional requirements that apply.
On this page:
- Remove asbestos before demolition
- Minimising airborne asbestos fibres and dust
- Soil within the demolition zone
- Asbestos removal and demolition licence
- Asbestos removal control plan for licensed removal
- Notifying Workplace Heath and Safety Queensland
- Training for licensed asbestos removal work
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Securing the site
- Decontamination of people, plant and equipment
- Informing people when asbestos removal and demolition is to commence
- Air monitoring
- Clearance inspection
- Disposal of asbestos waste
- Additional guidance
Remove asbestos before demolition
Sections 452 and 453 of the WHS Regulation require asbestos to be removed before demolition commences so far as reasonably practicable. If a duty holder does not remove the asbestos prior to demolition, they must provide evidence as to why it was not reasonably practicable to remove the asbestos.
There are times when the asbestos materials may not be able to be removed before (emergency) demolition. An emergency occurs if:
- a structure or plant is structurally unsound
- collapse of the structure or plant is imminent.
Minimising airborne asbestos fibres and dust
If it is not reasonably practicable for the duty holder to remove the asbestos before demolition or an emergency demolition of a domestic premises which contains asbestos, then the duty holder must use methods to minimise airborne asbestos fibres during the demolition, such as using a wet spray method. This method involves applying a fine water spray to the asbestos in a way that ensures the surface of the asbestos is saturated to suppress the release of asbestos fibres. Wetting agents added to the water may assist with particle suppression. Water run-off from the site must be controlled.
Soil within the demolition zone
Soil scraping and excavation is required in the demolition zone when the structure being demolished contains asbestos. The soil scraping and excavation area is under the immediate area of the structure. The depth of soil removed should be approximately 30-50 mm, as the impact of the demolition debris is limited to the surface of the soil only. Surface soil containing asbestos material should be safely contained and wetted down. The material should be contained within two layers of 200 micrometre (μm) polythene and disposed as asbestos waste to an approved landfill.
If all visible asbestos containing material debris has been removed, sampling of the soil and analysis for asbestos is not required.
Asbestos removal and demolition licence
All asbestos removal must be carried out in accordance with the WHS Regulation and may require the removalist to hold either an A or B class asbestos removal licence, (issued under the WHS Regulation) in thefollowing circumstances:
- the removal of more than 10 m² of non-friable asbestos must be carried out by a business with a current A or B class asbestos removal licence
- the removal of friable asbestos (loosely bound), must be carried out by a business with a current class A asbestos removal licence.
Business operators performing demolition are regulated under the WHS Regulation. The person performing the demolition may require a demolition licence (issued under the WHS Regulation). Specific demolition approval may also be required from local council.
Additional guidance is provided in the Demolition work code of practice 2013 (PDF, 440.6 KB) .
Asbestos removal control plan (ARCP) for licensed removal
Prior to demolition and before the licensed asbestos removal commences, an asbestos removal control plan must be prepared by the licensed asbestos removalist. See the How to safely remove asbestos code of practice 2011 (PDF, 784.57 KB) for guidance on the content of the ARCP.
Notifying Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
Licensed asbestos removal work and certain demolition work must also be notified to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland before work commences.
Training for licensed asbestos removal work
Workers and supervisors must be appropriately trained and hold certification for the Vocational Educational Training (VET) course appropriate to the class of asbestos being removed.
Personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE), suitable for the asbestos removal (e.g. safety boots, boot covers, disposable coveralls, and respiratory protective equipment), must be provided to workers. The appropriate PPE can be determined by a risk assessment.
Securing the site
A combination of warning signs and barricades should be used to prevent unauthorised access to the asbestos removal area. Further guidance on warning signs and barricades can be found in the How to safely remove asbestos code of practice 2011 (PDF, 784.57 KB) .
Decontamination of people, plant and equipment
Decontamination facilities must be available for the asbestos removal area, any plant and equipment used in the removal area and workers carrying out the asbestos removal work.
Methods to decontaminate plant and equipment should be utilised. This includes the changing of the pre-filters on the mobile plant air conditioning system, and engine air filter, prior to the relocation of this equipment to another site.
Informing people when asbestos removal and demolition is to commence
Owners and occupiers of the domestic premises, any neighbouring properties and others that could be affected by the demolition and/or asbestos removal must be informed prior to the commencement of the asbestos removal and/or demolition.
Air monitoring is mandatory for all class A asbestos removal work. This includes during the removal work and upon completion as part of the clearance before reoccupation of the asbestos removal work area. The air monitoring must be carried out by an independent licensed asbestos assessor. Air monitoring during the removal of non-friable asbestos or demolition is optional.
Ensure a clearance inspection of the asbestos removal work area is carried out at the completion of the licensed asbestos removal work by an independent competent person (for class B asbestos removal) or an independent licensed asbestos assessor (for class A asbestos removal) and a clearance certificate is issued.
Disposal of asbestos waste
Asbestos waste must be contained and labelled before it is removed from the asbestos removal area. It must be disposed of as soon as is reasonably practicable at a site authorised to accept asbestos waste. Find out more about transport and disposal of asbestos waste.
Additional guidance is provided in the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) Guidance note Containment and disposal of asbestos contaminated dust and debris arising from fire damaged buildings (PDF, 1.98MB) .
For more information about asbestos visit www.qld.gov.au/asbestos or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).
- Last updated
- 10 November 2017
Help raise asbestos safety awareness
Asbestos Awareness Week is a great opportunity to raise awareness about working safely with asbestos and to help Queenslanders easily identify asbestos materials in their homes.