What is Asbestos? Do You Need a Licence To Remove It?

What is asbestos? How can it be removed? These are some of the most frequently asked questions about asbestos. You may need to be familiar with asbestos depending on where you work. Here are the basics.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos can be found in soil and rocks as a natural mineral. Because of its strength, asbestos has been used for many decades. Asbestos was affordable and fireproof making it a popular insulation material. Asbestos can also be used for other purposes:

  • Roofing shingles
  • Floor tiles
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Countertops
  • Asbestos cement products
  • Components for automobiles

After recognising the health risks associated with asbestos exposure, Australia outlawed the use of asbestos in 2003. Around 90% of all asbestos fibre used in asbestos cement manufacturing was at the time. It is still used in older building materials, despite being banned only 20 years ago.

There are two types of asbestos: non-friable or fibriable. Friable is "easily broken down." Friable asbestos can pose a greater health risk because it can be easily crushed when handled. This can result in small fibres being released into the atmosphere. Asbestos dust can increase the risk of several health problems, including:

  • Asbestosis
  • Pleural disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma

Inhaling asbestos fibres can cause pleural disease and asbestosis, which are non-cancerous diseases. Asbestosis refers to scarring in the lungs. This scarring can prevent oxygen and carbon dioxide from flowing through the lungs easily. It can make breathing more difficult.

Pleural disease, a non-cancerous type of lung disease, is an alteration to the membrane around the lungs and chest cavity. This can cause breathing problems.

Each year, thousands of Australians are diagnosed as suffering from asbestos-related diseases. Because asbestos poses a danger, the government has strict regulations regarding its removal. You could face severe penalties if you fail to comply.

Recent updates to the laws regarding asbestos have also been made. All companies must comply with the WHS Act's model Codes for Practice in dealing with asbestos-containing materials (ACM) or asbestos products. Training is available to help ensure compliance and minimise the risks associated with handling asbestos waste.

Businesses that work in areas where asbestos exposure is a possibility must comply with the model WHS regulations. This includes industrial sites such as construction sites and automotive plants. These are some requirements:

  • Train workers who might be exposed to asbestos.
  • Asbestos removal should be arranged as soon as possible.
  • Maintain an asbestos register.
  • Use an asbestos management plan.
  • Get a license to remove asbestos.

These requirements are for persons who operate a business (PCBUs), but workers must also be trained to recognize asbestos and remove it.

How do you identify asbestos?

Companies must identify areas where asbestos might be found in the workplace. Workers in certain industries should be able to recognize asbestos. Anyone at risk of being exposed to asbestos must complete the 10675NAT Asbestos Awareness course.

For many professions, such as bricklayers and stonemasons, air conditioning mechanics, building inspectors, civil engineering, and many others, asbestos awareness training is essential. Even if asbestos is not your primary occupation, it's important to be able to recognize it.

Asbestos is difficult to identify just by its appearance. Knowing the possible materials that could contain asbestos is key to identifying it. Once a suspect material is suspected to contain asbestos, it's often necessary to perform further analysis in order confirm its presence.

How Is Asbestos Removed?

A licensed asbestos removalist is required to safely remove asbestos. This includes companies that comply with the requirements. A licence is not required for individual workers. You may need to be trained in order to take part in the removal process.

The Work Health and Safety Act (WHS Act) covers the procedures and requirements to remove asbestos. You may need training if you work in construction or are exposed to asbestos products.

The type of asbestos you have and your role in the removal of asbestos will determine the type of training that you receive.

  • CPCCDE3014 Remove Non-Friable Asbestos
  • CPCCDE3015 Remove Friable Asbestos
  • CPCCDE4008 Supervise Asbestos Removal

For the removal of more than 10 square meters of non-friable (Class A) asbestos materials, the CPCCDE3014 course must be completed. For the removal of any amount friable (Class B) asbestos, the CPCCDE3015 training is necessary. Both courses require prerequisite training.

CPCCWHS1001-Prepare for Work in the Construction Industry is required before you can enroll in CPCCDE3014 and CPCCDE3015. White card training is commonly known as the CPCCWHS1001 course.

OHS.com.au is able to help you meet industry standards as well as government regulations, no matter what your training requirements. OHS.com.au is an established marketplace for training organisations that offers a variety of courses across Australia. Learn more about training courses.


In certain settings, asbestos remains a risk. Asbestos exposure can occur to workers in the construction, electrical, plumbing, and industrial industries. To safely remove asbestos from the workplace, you will need to be trained.

For those who work in occupations that involve asbestos exposure, it is important to complete asbestos awareness training. Anyone involved in the removal or removal of non-friable and friable asbestos must take asbestos awareness training. If you need asbestos training, browse upcoming asbestos courses from OHS.com.au.

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