Asbestos in Commercial Buildings: Understanding the Risk

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used widely for construction and building materials between the 1930s and the 1990s in Australia. Due to its extreme flexibility, durability and resistance to fire, asbestos was heavily used in commercial and industrial building sites.

Asbestos itself actually refers to six different minerals, all of which are naturally occurring. These include chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite and tremolite. Often, they are just known by white asbestos (chrysotile), blue asbestos (crocidolite) and brown asbestos (amosite).

In 2003, asbestos was officially banned Australia wide in regard to use, selling, importing and purchasing. Nowadays, due to the extreme health concerns associated with asbestos, the removal of the product is a booming and important industry for both residential and commercial sites.

How can I know if a commercial building contains asbestos?

Sometimes there are tell-tale signs of asbestos materials in a building, such as textured ceilings of the building plans mentioning asbestos containing products. Australian asbestos professionals GBAR Group Sydney strongly advise against checking for asbestos in a building. If someone doesn’t know what they are looking for, they are putting themselves at risk. Dusting off old materials, disturbing or breaking materials with asbestos in them can release the particles into the air and make them a risk for human exposure.

If asbestos has been detected and poses a threat to the commercial building, the asbestos removalist will take the next steps to perform removal of the materials. The time it will take to remove the asbestos safely and cleanly, will depend on how much asbestos is found in the building.

Often with larger commercial buildings, where there are larger amounts of asbestos materials, mechanical removal is an option. This means a machine will carry out the work, further preventing more asbestos exposure to any humans. The area of which asbestos removal is taking place will be cordoned off and only accessed by specialists when necessary.

WorkSafe are an agency that specialise in ensuring commercial properties are thoroughly inspected by a licensed asbestos removalist if the product is suspected. Having a professional analyse the building will entail a sampling of the materials which are then sent off to be tested before removal.

Asbestos waste is then placed in suitable packaging that prevents and stops any of the dangerous and toxic fibres from being released into the air. They packages are then labelled, double wrapped and then taken to a specialist licensed asbestos site.

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