Ban on asbestos 

Before being banned in December 2003, asbestos was used in a range of industries including in the construction and transport industries.   

It’s now illegal to make, import or use asbestos because of its long-term dangers to health. 

Types of asbestos 

Asbestos can be: 

  • friable – asbestos that is easily crushed into a powder. Friable asbestos has a higher risk of airborne fibres being released when it is handled. 

  • non-friable (bonded) – asbestos that is mixed with cement or resin to keep fibres in place. Non-friable asbestos poses a risk of releasing airborne fibres if it gets damaged. 

Training and licensing requirements are different for workers who handle each type of asbestos.  

Some non-friable asbestos is more likely to get brittle or break, like low density asbestos fibre board

Where you might find asbestos 

You might still find asbestos in older buildings and products, such as fibrous cement sheeting, flue pipes, drains, roofs, gutters, brakes, clutches and gaskets. 

You can’t tell if something has asbestos just by looking at it. Only a competent person can identify asbestos in the workplace.  

If you assume that there is asbestos at your workplace, then it is taken to be identified at the workplace. You can have a sample tested to determine whether or not its asbestos.  

In the past friable asbestos was often put in walls and ceilings in homes. 

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency has more information on where you might find asbestos in the workplace. 

Asbestos is dangerous to your health 

Asbestos consists of many tiny fibres, which can get into the air when disturbed. 

Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. People rarely get symptoms of these diseases until 20 to 30 years later. 

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency has more information about asbestos health risks and safety, and who to contact if it’s in your home or community. 

If you have asbestos at work 

If you think there’s asbestos in your workplace, talk to your employer first. If you’re still concerned, contact the work health and safety (WHS) regulator in your state or territory. 

You need a licence to assess or remove asbestos. 

If you’re a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) with asbestos, you must: