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Managing Asbestos in WA Properties

What you need to know about Asbestos in WA – Update on the Work Health & Safety 2022.

Did you know that any residential or commercial property owner who suspects there is asbestos in property needs to have an asbestos register done in order to protect any tradesperson that services the property? If you would like to know more on how to prepare the asbestos register, our Property Managers are here to assist you.

According to the Work Health & Safety 2022 Regulations, Chapter 8 defines the duty of care and responsibilities in regards to the treatment of asbestos in one’s residential or commercial property.



The definition of “asbestos” from Greek origin, means “unquenchable” or “inextinguishable” which is attributed to its heat-resistant qualities. Historians record its first uses in human culture to Finland’s earthenware pots around 2,500BC.  Although recent widespread use of asbestos dated back to the 1700s, it became popular during the Industrial Revolution of 1800s when fibrous anthophyllite was mined for use in the USA.

Types of asbestos:

There are 2 categories of asbestos defined by DMIRS:

  • Friable asbestos is asbestos in the form of a powder, or which is soft and crumbles under hand pressure. Examples include asbestos pipe insulation and the paper-like backing on asbestos-backed vinyl sheet flooring.
  • Non-friable asbestos containing material, such as asbestos cement sheet, can become friable in some circumstances (eg if involved in a severe fire). 

Where is it used?

Common applications of asbestos include retardant coatings, concrete, bricks, pipes, fireplace cement, heat, fire and acid-resistant gaskets, insulations, roofing, flooring, fences and drywall joint compounds. It is often used in the construction, resources and shipping industries.

How prevalent is Asbestos use in Australia?

  • 52% of all houses built in NSW between 1945-1954 were asbestos cement houses
  • 25% of all new houses in Australia by 1960

Australia has the highest gross consumption of asbestos cement products on a per capita basis globally (ranks 4th in the world in its total gross consumption after US, UK and France)
When was it banned?

In 1970s, there were growing concerns about the dangers of asbestos exposure following medical literature and research in the 1930s. It was finally phased out in 1989 and completely banned from December 2003.

Why was it banned?

Asbestos is a health hazard when fibres become airborne and are inhaled or swallowed as the particles can penetrate your body and embed themselves in the deepest part of the lungs causing lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Mesothelioma claimed its first known victim in 1906. It commonly occurs 15 to 30 years after initial exposure.

What is your duty of care?

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) states the following:

“The Work Health and Safety (General) Regulations 2022 requires that the person conducting a business or undertaking identifies the presence and location of asbestos at the workplace, and assesses the health risks. 

This information will be recorded on the asbestos register.  If the asbestos containing material (ACM) presents a health risk, the employer or person in control of the workplace has a duty of care under WHS legislation to implement controls.

The asbestos register is used to communicate the hazard before work is done on the asbestos containing material. A safe system of work must be used for tasks that may disturb the asbestos containing material (eg cleaning, painting or other maintenance).”

If you’re a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you must identify, assess and control hazards in the workplace. You should always aim to eliminate risks. If that’s not possible, you must minimise risks so far as is reasonably practicable. 

Managing the risks of asbestos includes: 

  • identifying asbestos and asbestos-containing material at the workplace  
  • recording identified material in an asbestos register 
  • assessing the risk of exposure to airborne asbestos 
  • eliminating or minimising the risks of asbestos by using control measures 
  • reviewing control measures to make sure they are working. 

What to do next

If you would like to know more especially in regards to preparing an asbestos register, please feel free to contact our Property Managers here in Perth.


Useful Links:

SafeWork Australia:

Department of Mines, Industrial Regulation and Safety:

Legislation WA:$FILE/Gg2022_034.pdf?OpenElement

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