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Currently, 500 men and 100 women develop mesothelioma in Australia every year. This is predicted to rise to 900 by 2020.1At this point it is expected that there will be between 30–40 000 people diagnosed with asbestos-related disease.2

Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous silicate mineral. Exposure to asbestos fibres in the air can cause a range of lung diseases and diseases of related tissue, including asbestosis and mesothelioma, a form of cancer which is usually fatal.


The laws and regulations surrounding asbestos use in the Commonwealth jurisdiction have changed. There are new laws including:

This also includes Codes of Practice

Other Codes of Practice containing references to asbestos include;

Some of the adjustments in the legislation include but may not be limited to:3

  • The establishment of generic risk management provisions, including a hierarchy of controls, which will apply to all duties under the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011.
  • There are new requirements for licensing of asbestos assessors (normally occupational hygienists) and obligations on persons conducting a business or undertaking to use licensed asbestos assessors for air monitoring and clearance certificates when removing friable asbestos.
  • Class A (friable) asbestos removal license holders will be required to have a certified safety management system.
  • Certain demolition work must be notified to the regulator. New South Wales will retain its current licensing arrangements until demolition licensing under the national occupational licensing scheme commences (at least 2013).

What you need to know

  1. The University of Melbourne, ‘The Killer Within’, Voice, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2008.
  2. W Shorten, DIY renovators warned of asbestos risk, Ministers' Media Centre, viewed 12 November 2012.
  3. Refer to Chapter 8 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011.
Page last updated: 17 Feb 2020