Asbestos management plans and safety management systems

This article is summarised from WorkSafe Construction and Building Maintenance updates in February and March 2018.

It’s important that in any place of work where asbestos has been identified, is likely to be, or where the business ought to know it is present, there should be an asbestos-management plan in place. In addition, licensed asbestos-removal businesses must have a certified safety management system (SMS) by 4 April 2018 as part of the new asbestos regulations.

WorkSafe guidelines for an asbestos-management plan

If you're a tradie, an asbestos-management plan is one of your greatest tools to stay safe when you arrive at a new worksite. If you're going to a site where you know or suspect there may be asbestos, simply ask the client to see their management plan. An asbestos-management plan sets out where any identified asbestos or asbestos containing material is and how it can be managed.

WorkSafe has published some guidelines on what needs to be covered in an asbestos-management plan, on what to do if you share a building, and on training your staff to identify asbestos. The guidance also includes diagrams of common places where asbestos can be found in residential and commercial buildings.

Do you need an asbestos management plan? (WorkSafe guidelines)

WorkSafe guidelines for certified safety management system

Any businesses applying for a Class A asbestos-removal licence must have a certified safety management system in place by 4 April 2018, as part of the new asbestos regulations. A safety management system (SMS) is an established set of processes to manage health and safety and maintain a high safety standard in the workplace. It is designed to ensure a business has identified the risks and has taken appropriate steps to manage them.

Your SMS should include accountabilities, policies, and procedures, and be appropriate to the size and complexity of your asbestos-removal business. It takes time to develop a system and have it audited. It is possible to complete this in a matter of weeks if you dedicate sufficient time and resources. However, it is more realistic to allow between 6 and 9 months.

All licence holders need their SMS certified by an accredited auditor. Your SMS must be compliant with:

  • AS/NZS 4801:2001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, or
  • BS OHSAS 18001:2001 Occupational health and safety management systems

WorkSafe has published guidelines and FAQs on where to start, what an SMS is, what to consider when developing one, which standards to follow, how to get the system audited, and what will happen if you don’t have one by the 4 April 2018 deadline.

Certification of safety management systems (WorkSafe guidelines)

Asbestos certified safety management system FAQs (WorkSafe FAQS)

Published in building.