Asbestos Awareness Means Safer DIY – Here’s Why

person prepares DIY project with a drill

Planning on installing a shelf? Knocking down a wall? Before tradies across Australia can work in NSW and the ACT, they need Asbestos Awareness. No matter the DIY you have planned this weekend, it’s important to be aware of the risks.

DIY is on the rise across the country, with Australians spending more time at home during lockdowns. ‘Research commissioned by Bunnings found 64 per cent of people surveyed were tackling DIY once a month.’ 1

But the government’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) is warning any renovators that asbestos ‘is something you need to be aware of before you start doing any repairs, maintenance or improvements to your home, even if all you want to do is drill into a wall to install a shelf’ (pg. 4). 2

If your house was built or renovated before 1990, it probably has some asbestos.2

‘Asbestos is known to cause cancer. When microscopic asbestos fibres are inhaled, they can cause diseases such as lung cancer, and other diseases which have no cure like mesothelioma and asbestosis. All of these asbestos-related diseases contribute to approximately 4000 deaths in Australia each year (which is about three times more deaths per year than road crashes).3

Home renovator removes insulation

How much asbestos is deadly?

‘You don’t need a lot of exposure to asbestos fibres to develop a fatal disease later in life. Without taking the right precautions, asbestos fibres can also contaminate your clothing and furnishings in your home, risking not only your own health, but that of your family… (there is) no known safe level of exposure

Some people who develop an asbestos-related disease can only identify one exposure in their past.  Others who were regularly exposed to airborne asbestos fibres do not become ill.’ (pg. 4) 2

According to the ASEA, ‘you can’t tell if a material contains asbestos just by looking at it. Only scientific testing of a sample can confirm this.’ (pg. 6) 2

What Resources are Available to be Asbestos Aware?

We recommend learning more about asbestos by checking out the ASEA’s website. You can find their guide on asbestos (and the accompanying PDF) below.

The Victorian Government has this tool to help determine if asbestos might be in your home, as well as an A-Z list of asbestos-containing materials.

However, these tools usually present estimates and do not provide all the skills tradies use to identify asbestos and the correct procedures to follow if identified.

A professional removes possible asbestos-containing materials

What Courses Do Tradies Take to Become Asbestos Aware?

Fortunately, the Australian Government has created a short, four-hour course that equips participants with the practical knowledge and abilities to identify and understand asbestos-containing materials, possible locations of asbestos and correct procedures to follow if correctly identified. It does not cover how to remove asbestos, since ‘in many circumstances, it is easier and safer to engage a licensed professional to remove the asbestos for you’4.

This awareness course is called Asbestos Awareness (10675NAT) and is available for anyone to study CTI. By studying with us, you can complete this course through our Virtual Format classes for approximately four to five hours.

Since 2014, according to the Work Health and Safety Act, all individuals who work in fields that may involve contact with asbestos must have Asbestos Awareness (10675NAT). These occupations include, but are not limited to:

  • Builders,
  • Plumbers,
  • Bricklayers,
  • Stonemasons,
  • Architects,
  • AC Mechanics,
  • Civil Engineers,
  • Scaffolders, and
  • Roof tilers.5

How can I learn more about Asbestos Awareness?

If you, a family member, or even your neighbour is renovating their home and there’s a chance that you’ll encounter asbestos-containing materials, it’s a great idea to take a few hours to learn how to properly identify asbestos. Doing so will help you renovate while keeping you and your family safe.

To find out more about the Asbestos Awareness Virtual Format course, you can read our complete course page below.

We also recommend reading the government’s guide for asbestos in the home. You can find it by clicking the first button in this blog, titled: ‘Asbestos safety for householders and home renovators’. Finally, you can submit an enquiry below if you have any questions about the course. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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