Asbestos Legislation Now Operational in Commercial and Industrial Real Estate

As from the 1st of January 2012 new Work, Health and Safety legislation laws relating  to asbestos in industrial and commercial buildings came into effect.

The rate of asbestos related deaths and illnesses in Australia, has risen dramatically in recent times. In the past (5) consecutive years the rate has tripled each year.

The new legislation can be summarised as follows:

1)    All workplaces built prior to 2004 must undergo an asbestos audit.  Whether you are leasing an industrial or commercial building or are the Owner of an industrial or commercial building these laws apply.

2)    A workplace is where any employee is within a building at any time for any reason.  This applies to real estate agents whose work places are industrial and commercial buildings and residential homes and units.

3)    Any workplace must have an ‘Asbestos Register’ and an ‘Asbestos Management Plan’ available onsite at all times.

4)    Even if there is NO asbestos detected the Register and Management Plan must be made available.

5)    Onus lies upon the ‘person in control’ – implies an individual or body corporate or on-site management in control of such a workplace.

6)    Penalties have significantly increased.

7)    Only ‘competent persons’ who have been qualified by the legislative body may perform asbestos audits and removal.

8)    All precedents relating to prosecutions have been eliminated. There will be no escape routes for offenders.

If you have a building of any type built prior to 2004 you MUST employ a professional recognised under Work Health and Safety legislation to perform an audit.  Whilst this legislation is in effect now indications are that work cover may not fully apply the impact on industrial and commercial buildings until (2014).  Even so the responsibility is still there and we are suggesting to all our Owners that they comply with this as soon as possible.  The perfect time to do this is when you are selling or buying industrial or commercial property or entering into a new lease of industrial and commercial property.

Jason Robertson
Commercial & Industrial Specialist

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