In June 2014, the Australian Capital Territory Government announced new laws mandating asbestos awareness training for workers an employer reasonably believes will work with asbestos or asbestos containing material.
From 1 July 2014, Section 445 of the
Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Regulation) provides that a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) must ensure that these workers* (which are broadly defined) are trained in accordance with the Regulation. In a church environment a PCBU could include a diocese, school, religious order or an aged care facility, just to name a few.
The Regulation mandates a specific training course - the VET course Asbestos Awareness (10314 NAT). Only training in this course will meet the requirements from 1 July 2014, however WorkSafe ACT will accept some training done by other organisations prior to this date. Visit www.worksafe.act.gov.au for further details.
What does this mean for PCBUs?
PCBUs must ensure all workers it reasonably believes will work with asbestos or asbestos containing materials receive training, regardless of how long they have worked in the job, their level of seniority and qualifications. While there is no clear definition for working with asbestos or asbestos containing materials, WorkSafe ACT provides examples of how these terms may be interpreted on their website.
Examples of workers a church PCBU will need to ensure receive training would include:
Any building or construction worker employed by the PCBU
Facility and corporate managers responsible for their premises' asbestos management plan
Any worker who has the responsibilities for ensuring workers in an office context are not exposed to asbestos, such as ensuring the premises built before 2004 are maintained in good condition, or through managing repairs, refurbishment and renovations must be trained in asbestos awareness
A WorkSafe ACT inspector may ask to see a PCBU's record that their workers have been trained in the approved course. If a PCBU cannot provide such a record a reasonable period of time will be allowed to comply. Failure to comply after an initial infringement notice is issued may result in substantial fines and penalties.
What do you need to do?
Ensure all workers you reasonably believe will work with asbestos or asbestos containing materials, as well as those responsible for the management of premises built before 2004 receive training.
Keep a record of who has been trained.
ACT Government Asbestos Awareness
Safe Work Australia
CCI has a number of useful Resources on this and many other topics available on this website or by calling the risksupport Helpdesk on
1300 660 827.
Managing Risk In Catholic Organisations – Conducting a Risk Assessment, Developing a Risk Treatment Plan Asbestos Hazard
*Section 7 (1) of the Work Health Safety Act 2011 ACT defines a Worker as
- A person who carries out work in any capacity for a person conducting a business or undertaking, including work as—
- an employee; or
- a contractor or subcontractor; or
- an employee of a contractor or subcontractor; or
- an employee of a labour hire company who has been assigned to work in the person's business or undertaking; or
- an outworker; or
- an apprentice or trainee; or
- a student gaining work experience; or
- a volunteer; or
- a person of a prescribed class