Asbestos on development sites: solving your issues effectively

EESI Group has been happy to host industry professionals and our teams in Qld, NSW and VIC for our second 2017 Technical Seminar Asbestos on Development Sites: Solving Your Issues Effectively. As is customary during these sessions, attendees enjoyed refreshments while our in-house specialist led the seminar.

Although a recap is not the same thing as being at one of our sessions, for those of you who could not attend, we have included a short rundown of the key points below. We would love see you all at our November Technical Seminar on Developing Contaminated land: Where are you in the Development Cycle. To register your interest, please contact Rachel Sherwood at




As it was believed an effective and versatile product, there is thought to have been be over 3,000 applications of asbestos worldwide. At one point in time, one third of all houses built in Australia contain asbestos products. In Environmental Earth Sciences’ most recent technical seminar, Sydney General Manager Mauricio Bressan discussed regulatory framework and uncovered tips on how to properly manage sites contaminated with this deadly legacy.

Everyday forms of asbestos include piping, fibre board, roofing, vinyl floor tiles, acoustic tiles, pipe insulation, floor underlay, cement siding, brake pads, switchboard panels and lagging. It can be in a bonded (aka non-friable) or non-bonded (aka friable) form. Although both forms are considered a risk to human health, the most urgent risk is presented by loos fibres in non-bonded asbestos that can easily release into the air. Fibres also become free when bonded asbestos is broken up or it is deteriorating. These loose fibres are hazardous to human health when they become lodged in the body. Inhalation is the main exposure pathway; however, fibres may also enter the body via ingestion or through the skin via dermal exposure.

“Asbestos diseases…kill more people than any other single work-related cause” G&L Consultancy Ltd, 2017


Managing the issue:

Strict safety procedures such as dust prevention, air monitoring and PPE should be utilized throughout the assessment and management of asbestos.

There are two major stages in managing asbestos contaminated sites:

  1. Identification – conduct a site assessment to identify the potential for asbestos to be present onsite and, if present, quantify and delineate the extent of the issue.
  2. Management – develop site specific procedures (e.g. Asbestos Management Plan and unexpected findings protocol), know the codes of practice and your responsibility and, choose the outcome you would like to achieve.

Engaging the right people for the right tasks:

  • Environmental scientist for assessing and remediating asbestos in soil – assessment, validation and waste classification.
  • Occupational hygienist for assessing asbestos exposure in the workplace and providing clearance certificates – air monitoring, clearance certificates, general advice independent from asbestos removalist.

Management of asbestos should consider preferred client outcomes and the conceptual site model. Engaging experienced environmental consultants will go a long way toward ensuring that solutions are site specific and not too conservative.

To sum up Mauricio’s advice, engaging with the problem is the key to appropriate asbestos management. Acknowledging the presence of asbestos onsite and making suitable preparations will result in reduced risk and fewer time delays, therefore, increased cost savings.

If you think asbestos may be present on your site, please give us a call and talk to one of our specialists. QLD (07) 3852 6666  NSW (02) 9922 1777  VIC (03) 9687 1666

When land needs to be nurtured, repaired or sustainably utilized, our name should be foremost in mind.

Asbestos Information, Australian Government, Sydney, viewed 8 September 2017 <>.

Asbestos Diseases 2014, G&L Consultancy Ltd, Wellington, viewed 8 September 2017 <>.


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