Undertaking Renovations,
Testing, Sampling, Handling & Safety

Are You Considering Undertaking Renovations?

Asbestos is still present in many homes and buildings today. This is because of the extensive use of asbestos in building materials, insulating materials and other products in the past. The use of asbestos in some of these materials did not cease until the late 1980’s.

There have been countless incidents of persons being unwittingly exposed to asbestos, carrying out home renovations or being present near homes or other building construction work. The society has worked tirelessly in recent years to raise awareness about exposure to asbestos and its dangers. It is the case that even brief exposure to asbestos can cause serious disease. All exposure should be avoided if possible.

ADSS strongly recommends employing a licensed professional to undertake any work where asbestos is or might be present. To find a licensed professional please contact the Demolition & Asbestos Industry Association at: www.daia.com.au

During your renovations, take precautions to avoid an expensive clean-up bill and minimise exposure to yourself and others.

Private contractors have had to pay clean-up bills in excess of $100,000 because preventative actions were not taken before commencing a job. There are methods to legally and safely work around asbestos in the home. The risk to your health and your neighbours is low if you take the necessary precautions. Look after your own health and that of your family and neighbours by following the law and safe work procedures.

Before starting a job involving asbestos, consider:

  • Can you leave the material alone (are there alternatives to removing it)?
  • Can you comply with the law and safety procedures when working with asbestos?
  • Does the job require a licensed asbestos removalist?

Rules when working with asbestos:

  1. Never use power tools, such as angle grinders, circular saws and electric sanders;
  2. Never use high pressure water blasters;
  3. Never use compressed air.
  4. Never break asbestos apart.
  5. Never step or walk on asbestos in case you break it.

All of these activities are very dangerous because they can release large numbers of asbestos fibers into the air. These activities are illegal and substantial penalties apply.

A booklet entitled Asbestos: A Home Renovator’s & Tradeperson’s Guide for Minor Work in Domestic Buildings has been produced by the Queensland Government. You can obtain your free copy of this booklet by calling the Society on 1800 776 412 or you can click here to access the guide.

What to do Before Working Around Asbestos

Before doing any work that may involve asbestos-containing materials or products it is essential that you first establish what contains asbestos. You cannot tell by a visual inspection only, samples must be taken and then tested in an authorised licenced testing facility. It is often very difficult to identify the presence of asbestos by sight as asbestos was/is contained in over 3,000 products. If unsure, assume asbestos is present and get it tested by a competent person and analysed in an accredited laboratory.

If your house or property was built or renovated prior to 1990, it is imperative you have it assessed and tested for asbestos by a licensed asbestos assessor. Having a full assessment done will lessen the risk of yourself and others being exposed to asbestos fibres when work is being carried out, or after it is finished.


Asbestos in the Built Environment
VIDEO – Kevin Sheedy Talks About Asbestos – click here to view

This section deals with asbestos in the built environment. For renovation purposes it has been split  into 3 distinct categories – click on the relevant category in blue below to access the information:


Note carefully: Training should be undertaken to help you understand more fully the dangers of asbestos and why you should have your home or workplace assessed for asbestos by a licensed  assessor, and if there is a need to engage a licensed removalist.

The HIA, MBA, unions, some TAFE colleges and other bodies run short (generally half to one day) asbestos awareness training courses. Asbestos awareness training will not necessarily qualify you to handle asbestos, but should make you more aware of the danger asbestos presents, and how to identify where it may be in your home or workplace. WITH ASBESTOS, SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT.

Testing, Handling and Sampling Asbestos

Sampling and laboratory testing is the only conclusive method of identifying the presence of asbestos. The result provided by the laboratory is a record of the asbestos or non-asbestos content of the sample piece provided for analysis. Visual only asbestos assessments cannot be relied upon, regardless of how experienced the person carrying out an asbestos assessment may be, the assessment will not be credible unless sample testing for asbestos of suspect material (if any) is conducted.

NOTE CAREFULLY: Any building built or renovated prior to 1990 has the possibility of containing
‘suspect material’.

It is the Society’s firm belief, and recommendation, that anything to do with testing and/or handling potential or known asbestos containing products is best left to fully trained and licenced professionals
– handling deteriorating or damaged Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) incorrectly, may have fatal consequences many years down the track.

To find a licenced professional please contact the Demolition & Asbestos Industry Association at: www.daia.com.au

Do not attempt under any circumstances to DIY testing of friable (loose fibrous or soft-bonded) material. Friable asbestos means any asbestos containing material that can be crumbled, pulverised,
or reduced to powder by hand pressure – such as: loose or fibrous backing to floor coverings; insulation in ceilings; sprayed on, or spongy insulation common around pipework, boilers etc.; rope insulation
material; or material that is already in a loose fibrous form. This may also include previously nonfriable (hard-bonded) asbestos containing material that becomes broken or damaged by mechanical
force – CAUTION – Working with friable asbestos containing material can be extremely dangerous, it is illegal for any person without an appropriate licence to handle, or work on any friable asbestos containing material.

REMEMBER: Asbestos is extremely dangerous because it kills people and destroys lives. Breathing in even small amounts of asbestos fibres/dust can be deadly and may kill you!