Asbestos Inspections and Testing in Our Brisbane Lab
Real estate agents have duties of care, not just to their employees, but also to others in relation to asbestos. As asbestos products may still exist in older residential buildings and industrial premises, real estate agents should exercise due diligence by having processes in place for considering the asbestos risk, undertaking testing, and responding in a timely way.
Hazardous materials audit services for the safe removal of asbestos
Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (the Act) a person conducting a business or undertaking has a primary duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of its workers and other persons are not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking.
An officer of the person conducting the business or undertaking must exercise due diligence to ensure that the person conducting the business or undertaking complies with that obligation.
Section 27 of the Act prescribes the requirements of “due diligence” as being:
(a) to understand the business and the hazards and risks associated with it;
(b) to ensure the person conducting the business or undertaking has processes for receiving and considering information regarding incidents, hazards and risks and responds in a timely way; and
(c) ongoing verification.
This duty to ensure health and safety requires the elimination of risks to health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable and, if elimination is not reasonably practicable, the risks must be minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.
Risk assessment and asbestos testing in Brisbane
To facilitate the identification of asbestos or the presence of asbestos on property, real estate agents should include in their initial inspection of the property proposed for management or sale questions such as:
- the age of the property
- the date of any renovations
- whether the client is aware of the presence of asbestos
If asbestos inspections reveal products on the property, then the Principal of the agency needs to consider what is “reasonably practicable” to ensure the health and safety for their employees and others in the workplace. If the likelihood of exposure was high, then the Principal should exclude their workers from approaching the site, and should advise the owner to seal off the area and urge them to engage an expert to assess the risk and recommend suitable ways of eliminating the risk.
The risk may be high for real estate agents involved in strata management or property management because properties might be managed for long periods and there may be a need to put in long-term strategies to deal with the risk. Again, the Principal should urge the Owners’ Corporation or owner to engage an expert from an asbestos testing lab to determine the level of risk concerned and recommend suitable ways of dealing with it.
If the risk management strategy is long term, then a Risk Assessment Form may be attached to the initial asbestos inspection report containing:
- the date the asbestos product is identified
- its precise location
- a description of the asbestos product and its use
- approximate volume/size
- its condition (good, fair or poor)
- whether dust is visible
- an estimate of the level of risk
- control measures – the date the sample was taken, date and type of asbestos confirmed and details of the treatment of the asbestos product showing the date and details or replacement or date and details of sealing.
The presence of asbestos is of concern for real estate agencies because of their duty of care to their employees, particularly if it is in a friable (damaged or degraded) state. Many properties in QLD & NSW are constructed from asbestos fibre cement or fibro (bonded) and asbestos low density board (friable). It may not be an issue in those properties if the asbestos is not in a friable state. However, if asbestos is located, removal should be recommended.
The Real Estate agency is under an obligation to disclose the presence of hazardous materials to the client as it may impact the property value and its use.
Alan took control of everything- nothing was too much to ask of him and Alan was precise right down to the last minor detail.