High level government plans to make Australia asbestos free and reduce the burden of asbestos related disease has resulted in major legislative reform. The rules governing asbestos management in Queensland have changed considerably and will now impact owners of all different types of commercial property.
The game has changed
The new Work Health & Safety Laws which commenced in January this year saw the introduction of a new Asbestos Management code of practice for the management and control of asbestos in the workplace.
Under the old regime, the Workplace Health & Safety Regulation 2008 (Qld), an obligation for asbestos management was only placed on an owner of commercial buildings built under an approval by local government before 1 January 1990.
This has now changed. Under the new model, the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Qld) which came into force from 1 January 2012, if a building was built under an approval by local government before 31 December 2003 and is used as a workplace then the commercial building owner must comply with the new Asbestos Management code of practice.
The new rules
The Asbestos Management code of practice requires a commercial building owner to do three key things:
- Identify all asbestos containing material on the property by obtaining an Inspection Report;
- Develop an Asbestos Register of asbestos containing material (even if none is identified);
- Prepare an Asbestos Management Plan.
What are the implications?
If you are an owner of commercial building built under a local government approval before 31 December 2003 you have an obligation to comply with the Asbestos Management code of practice.
Failure to do so could result in an owner of a commercial property being fined up to $60,000 or facing imprisonment up to six years as well as risks of liability for damages.
What’s the next step?
If you have not yet obtained a report, you should immediately contact an appropriately qualified professional to conduct an asbestos inspection and produce a written report complying with the new Asbestos Management code of practice.
It is also important to note that if you intend to offer your building for sale or lease you are now obliged to provide a copy of the current Asbestos Materials Report and/or Plan to the proposed purchaser or tenant.
As it is not a standard condition contained in a contract of sale or lease, special conditions will need to be prepared and included in the legal documentation. Copies of the Asbestos Materials Report and/or Plan will then need to be annexed to the relevant contract of sale or lease to ensure legislative compliance.
For more information
Please do not hesitate to contact Robert Lalor on (07) 3223 6100 to discuss this issue further, or to help you comply with this now heavily regulated area of legislation