Asbestos Awareness – What You Must Know To Protect Yourself

asbestos awareness

Table of Contents

Asbestos is a mineral with fire-resistant and insulating qualities; hence it was widely utilised in the construction industry and for insulation.

Tiny fibrous crystals make up asbestos, and those crystals can be unravelled to form sturdy threads. There are six different types of asbestos:

  • Chrysotile, popularly referred to as “white asbestos,” is the most prevalent form.Its most common application is as a component of roofing and insulation.
  • Amosite, often called “brown asbestos”, was once widely employed in various industries, including construction, manufacturing, and electricity.
  • Crocidolite, or “blue asbestos,” is widely regarded as the most dangerous mineral. Mostly, it found application in spray-on fireproofing and insulating materials.
  • Anthophyllite is a kind of asbestos that has seen less use in recent decades but is still present in some insulation and floor tiles.
  • Tremolite is a rarer form of asbestos that sometimes shows up as a byproduct in vermiculite and other asbestos minerals.
  • Actinolite is a kind of asbestos that is a relatively uncommon mineral, yet, it is still present in certain building products, such as floor tiles and insulation.


Asbestos can be found on construction sites in a diverse range of materials, including but not limited to the following:

  • Cement sheets
  • Tiles or shingles (external or ceiling)
  • Fittings, pipes, or tubes
  • Sheets with corrugations
  • Panels of flat sheeting
  • Millboard or compacted asbestos sheets
  • Sealants, mastics, adhesives and putties
  • Partitioning of an electrical panel
  • Vinyl asbestos tiles as floor coverings
  • Paints and coatings with texture


Due to the potential health hazards of asbestos, its use has been restricted or banned in many countries. However, it is still possible to encounter asbestos in older structures, making it imperative to exercise caution when dealing with or near the material.

Friable Asbestos And Non Friable Asbestos

Asbestos-containing products are classified as either “friable” or “non-friable,” depending on their flexibility (ACMs).

The following table presents a comparison of friable and non-friable forms of asbestos:

Friable AsbestosNon-Friable Asbestos
Easily crumbled, pulverised, or reduced to powder by hand pressure when dryDifficult to crush or break
Releases asbestos fibres into the air more readilyAsbestos fibres are not as easily released into the air
Examples: insulation materials, sprayed-on fireproofing, certain types of floor tilesExamples: asbestos cement products (roofing tiles, pipes), certain types of floor tiles
More dangerous due to the increased risk of inhalationGenerally considered less hazardous

Exposure to Asbestos and Its Effects on Human Health

It is important to remember that any asbestos exposure, no matter how slight, might increase the likelihood of health problems down the road. Asbestos exposure is linked to several health problems, including but not limited to the following:

Health Effects

Lung CancerProlonged exposure to asbestos fibres can raise the chance of developing lung cancer.
MesotheliomaAsbestos exposure is the sole known cause of mesothelioma, a disease that attacks the lining of the lungs.
AsbestosisThis disease of the lungs is caused by long-term exposure to asbestos fibres; it manifests as scarring and hardening of the lungs.
Other Health RisksThe development of pleural plaques, pleural effusions, and diffuse pleural thickening are some of the additional health risks of asbestos exposure.
Latency PeriodAsbestos-related health concerns may not manifest for many years after exposure, making early detection and treatment of these disorders challenging.

Asbestos Awareness Australia

The term “asbestos awareness” refers to understanding the dangers connected with being exposed to asbestos fibres and taking the necessary actions to avoid or reduce the risk of being exposed to asbestos. 

As a result of Australia’s long history of utilising asbestos, particularly for building construction and insulation, a large quantity of asbestos may still be found in many of the country’s older buildings.

Awareness of asbestos in Australia includes the following:

  • It is essential to have a profound understanding of the dangers posed by asbestos and the ailments linked to asbestos exposure. Some examples of these diseases include lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.
  • When working in or around older buildings, it is important to be aware of the existence of asbestos and to take the necessary steps to protect yourself.
  • It is important to follow safe handling and removal practices to reduce the potential for asbestos-related exposure. In most cases, this entails isolating the contaminated area, donning the proper personal protective equipment, removing the asbestos using specialist equipment and a series of carefully planned steps.
  • Keep abreast of all developments concerning asbestos-related regulations and guidelines, as well as any recent discoveries concerning the perils of asbestos and the most effective ways to avoid exposure to it.
  • Regular asbestos audits are to be carried out to determine whether or not buildings contain asbestos, and adequate management plans are to be put into place.
  • Awareness of asbestos is essential to ensuring the well-being of Australian citizens and workers. It is important to continue raising awareness about the risks of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos Warning Sign

Warning signs alert workers and the general public to potential risks in the workplace or in public places. These signs warn people about hazards such as snow on the floor, a low ceiling, dust (concrete, wood, or stone), UV radiation, or heat. Warning signs are commonly used in workplaces for operations involving dogging, rigging, and lifting. Their primary purpose is to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.

Warning signs presence of asbestosThe goal of warning signs is to bring attention to the danger and encourage people to take the appropriate steps to reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries.

A warning sign is used in the case of asbestos to show the presence of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) and to alert workers of the potential health concerns connected with asbestos fibre exposure. Asbestos warning signs often feature information on the type of ACM present and directions on how to avoid exposure.

To reduce the risk of accidents and injuries in the workplace or public places, it is critical to follow the recommendations on warning signs and to take the required safeguards.

What Is The Asbestos Awareness Act?

Several legislation and laws in Australia govern how asbestos is managed and handled. These include the following:

  • Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Act 2013:  This act establishes the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, which is responsible for coordinating and leading the activities of the Australian government to eliminate asbestos-related diseases. 
  • Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011: These regulations include specific criteria for managing and handling asbestos in the workplace, such as assessing the risk of asbestos exposure and adopting suitable control measures to minimise the risk of exposure. Additionally, these regulations mandate that asbestos be managed and handled by all applicable legislation.
  • Code of Practice for Removal of Asbestos: This code gives guidelines on removing asbestos safely and effectively. The processes for handling and removing asbestos, as well as the use of suitable personal protective equipment, are all addressed in this code.
  • Asbestos Register Requirements: Asbestos-containing buildings must keep an asbestos register to ensure that workers and the general public are aware of the presence of asbestos and how to limit the risk of exposure.


In a nutshell, being knowledgeable about asbestos in Australia is a legal necessity imposed by several acts and laws designed to protect the health and safety of workers and members of the general public. The obligations and responsibilities of employers, building owners, and workers are outlined in these regulations.

Asbestos Containing Materials

Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACMs) are building materials that contain asbestos fibres, such as:

  • Insulation materials such as pipe insulation, floor tiles, ceiling tiles, and fireproofing materials
  • Roofing materials, such as shingles, felts, and siding
  • Textured paints and coatings
  • Brake pads, gaskets, and clutches in vehicles
  • Boiler and furnace insulation
  • Textiles, such as heat-resistant clothing and fireproof curtains
  • Joint compounds and adhesives used in construction
  • Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring
  • Plaster, cement products, and wallboard.


Asbestos’ fireproofing and soundproofing abilities made it a popular building material choice in the middle of the twentieth century.

However, if ACMs are damaged, asbestos fibres can be released into the air and inhaled, where they can cause major health issues such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.

The correct identification and handling of ACMs can reduce the danger of exposure to asbestos fibres. This may involve:

  • Utilising protective gear
  • Adhering to stringent safety requirements, and 
  • Encapsulating or eliminating ACMs to lower exposure risks
Maintenance and repairs workers asbestos awareness

Why Do Maintenance And Repair Workers Need Asbestos Awareness Training?

Maintenance and repairs workers, especially workers who enter ceiling cavities (such as insulation installers, air-conditioning installers, pest spray operators, and solar panel providers), require asbestos awareness training because they may come into contact with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) while working, especially in older buildings. 

These workers may cause ACMs to be disturbed, resulting in fibres being discharged into the air and potentially inhaled, leading to major health issues such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.

Asbestos awareness training equips workers with the knowledge and skills to work safely around ACMs. The training covers the following topics:

  • The dangers of asbestos and the health risks linked with exposure
  • How to Identify ACMs and Assess Exposure Risk
  • Proper methods for handling and removing ACMs, including protective measures to reduce exposure risk
  • Workplace asbestos regulations and requirements


Aside from maintenance and repair personnel, additional workers who may require asbestos awareness training include:

  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Carpenters and joiners
  • Plasterers
  • Painters and decorators
  • Gas fitters
  • Demolition workers
  • Floor finishers
  • Emergency services workers, and 
  • Building and construction workers


Asbestos awareness training certification usually necessitates completing a course and examination. The training is available online or in person, and the certification is typically valid for one to three years.

Workers must undergo another asbestos awareness course to renew their certification after the certification period has elapsed.

Asbestos Awareness Day

Asbestos Awareness Day is observed yearly on November 25th in Australia. The annual event known as “Asbestos Awareness Day” aims to educate people about the perils of asbestos and the significance of the responsible administration and disposal of asbestos-containing items. 

This day provides a chance for people and groups to learn about the dangers of asbestos and take measures to safeguard themselves and others from exposure.

Australia observes both Asbestos Awareness Day and Asbestos Awareness Month in November. Asbestos Awareness Month is an annual campaign emphasising the importance of taking precautions around asbestos and its derivatives in the workplace.

National Asbestos Awareness Week 

National Asbestos Awareness Week (November 23-29) is an annual event held in Australia to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos and the precautions that should be taken when working with or around asbestos-containing materials. The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency organises the week, usually held in November.

Various events and activities are planned throughout National Asbestos Awareness Week to increase awareness about the risks of asbestos and the significance of safe work practices. This may include information sessions, workshops, public events, campaigns, and instructional materials to increase public and industry professional awareness.

National Asbestos Awareness Week aims to raise awareness about asbestos’ dangers and encourage safe work practices while dealing with ACMs. This includes advocating the safe removal and disposal of asbestos to preserve public health and the environment.

Asbestos Awareness NSW Vs. Asbestos Awareness Victoria

In Australia, asbestos awareness training is mandatory for workers in the building and demolition industries. While the national asbestos awareness framework is constant, specific rules and requirements may vary between Australian jurisdictions like New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria.

The following are some of the main distinctions between asbestos awareness in New South Wales and Victoria:


  • SafeWork NSW oversees workplace health and safety in New South Wales
  • Asbestos awareness training must include instruction on the substance’s risks, how to spot asbestos-containing items and safe procedures for handling asbestos.
  • SafeWork NSW Victoria stipulates certain standards that training must achieve.


  • WorkSafe Victoria, the state agency in charge of regulating occupational health and safety
  • The Asbestos Awareness training course must include the same themes as those mandated in New South Wales, including the risks and proper procedures for handling asbestos
  • There may be minimal training time, format, and assessment needs; however, these must be by WorkSafe Victoria’s criteria


Suppose you want the most up-to-date information on asbestos awareness training requirements. In that case, you should contact the appropriate agency in your state or territory.

Asbestos Awareness Online 

In Australia, the relevant state or territory government organisation responsible for occupational health and safety must accept the licensing of an asbestos awareness course online.

SafeWork NSW, the state’s workplace health and safety organisation, certifies and accredits asbestos training in New South Wales. 

Similar authorities regulate and support asbestos awareness training online in other states and territories, such as Victoria and Queensland. Check with the appropriate authorities in your state or area to ensure the online course you’re contemplating is legal and meets the necessary standards.

Asbestos Awareness Card And Asbestos Awareness Certificate

An Asbestos Awareness Certificate and an Asbestos Awareness Card are the same documents that validate that an individual has taken an asbestos training course. 

The certificate or card certifies that the holder has been educated about the dangers of asbestos, how to identify asbestos-containing materials, and the precautions that must be taken to protect themselves and others from asbestos fibre exposure. 

These certifications or cards are frequently required for individuals working on the construction, demolition, or remodelling projects that may contain asbestos-containing materials. The primary distinction between an asbestos awareness certificate and an asbestos awareness card may be in the format or type of document issued, with some organisations offering certificates and others issuing cards.

Is There Any Instruction On Asbestos In The White Card?

In Australia, workers in the construction business are required to complete a training programme called the White Card, which includes asbestos awareness training as one of its components. International students intending to work in the construction business in Australia must complete the White Card training, which includes the Asbestos Awareness component, before they can begin work.

An overseas student must retake the White Card test if they do not pass the first time. Students may be required to pay the price to repeat the test. However, this is something that varies depending on the training provider. 

Some training providers may additionally offer additional support or resources to students to assist them in preparing for the test and to increase the likelihood of the students’ passing it. If you want to learn more about white card training, you should contact an accredited training provider.

International students must prepare themselves extensively for the White Card exam, which includes the Asbestos Awareness component. This will ensure they know the risks associated with asbestos and the proper way to operate safely with asbestos-containing materials. 

This will help to reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries occurring in the construction industry and ensure that personnel have the information and abilities necessary to perform their jobs in a manner that does not compromise their safety. 

How Can Training On Asbestos Help Those Working With Construction Materials, Building, and Traffic control?

Australian asbestos training benefits many occupations, including construction workers, traffic controllers, and builders.

Improved safety: Asbestos training educates employees on handling asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) hazards. It provides them with the knowledge they need to do their jobs safely. This can lessen the chances of getting sick from breathing in asbestos fibres.

Compliance with the law: Asbestos removal and handling is governed by legislation in each Australian territory. Workers who have received asbestos training are better able to comply with the law and safety standards.

Enhanced job performance: Increased efficiency and decreased employee error rates are two direct results of asbestos training for employees.

Better employment prospects: Asbestos-trained workers have a leg up in the job market, as employers highly value their experience. Gaining asbestos training makes a worker more desirable to potential employers.

Increased confidence: Workers who have received asbestos training are more prepared to manage ACMs properly, which can boost their self-assurance and lessen their stress levels.

Asbestos training in Australia can bring several benefits to builders, construction workers, and traffic controllers, including higher safety, legal compliance, improved job performance, better career chances, and increased confidence. 

Asbestos training is a great way for employees to show their dedication to safety, get valuable experience, and develop their careers.

How Can Asbestos Training Help In The Preparation Of A Construction Ready Package?

Asbestos training can help in the design of a construction ready package by ensuring the following:

  • Adherence with Guidelines: Asbestos training ensures compliance with relevant health and safety regulations, such as the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) regulations, which require personnel to get suitable asbestos training.
  • Safe Asbestos Identification: Asbestos training provides workers with the information and abilities to detect asbestos in buildings, which is required for safe and effective removal and disposal during construction.
  • Safe Handling and Disposal Methods: Workers trained in asbestos handling can follow safe handling and disposal procedures, lowering the danger of asbestos exposure and minimising health and safety concerns to workers and the general public.
  • Demonstration of Safe Management: Including proof of asbestos training in the construction-ready package shows regulators and stakeholders that the construction project is being managed safely and following the rules.
  • Mitigating Risk: Asbestos training aims to reduce the hazards associated with asbestos exposure, guaranteeing the health and safety of construction workers and the general public.


Overall, asbestos training is critical in producing a construction-ready package in Australia, ensuring regulatory compliance, safe asbestos handling, and the successful completion of the construction project.

Asbestos Removal

In Australia, asbestos removal refers to eradicating asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) from a building or industrial facility. Asbestos removal is governed by laws in each jurisdiction and can only be done by certified professionals.

It usually takes multiple phases to complete the eradication procedure, including:

  • Identification: The initial stage in any asbestos abatement project is always to locate and identify the ACMs that need to be removed.

  • Planning: Preparation is key to a successful asbestos removal project, including establishing protocols for using PPE and decontamination techniques.

  • Containment: Asbestos must be contained, or kept from spreading, by sealing up the area containing it.

  • Removal: Qualified personnel must use specialised equipment and methods to remove asbestos safely.

  • Disposal: Asbestos that has been removed must be discarded in conformity with all applicable laws and rules.


Asbestos removal should only be attempted by certified experts with the necessary training, gear, and experience to do so safely. Asbestos removal is hazardous and illegal without the right training and safety gear.

Safe asbestos removal and disposal procedures are mandated by the Work Health and Safety Act and Regulations in Australia. Serious fines and legal repercussions may follow from disobeying these rules.