Heads up on changes to asbestos management
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 128, 25 August 2023, page no.15
The Department of Education is introducing changes to facility asbestos management and work area access permit requirements.
Some of the key changes impacting schools from the start of Term 4 are:
- the introduction of procedures for asbestos management generally, work area access permits (WAAPs), incident management and asbestos management, and WAAP delegation processes – these replace arrangements outlined in the asbestos management plan and provide greater direction on what is required to satisfy the requirements
- changes to role titles for asbestos management to reduce the confusion currently caused by the use of the abbreviation BM: “officer in charge” (OIC) and “OIC delegate” are replacing “building manager” and “nominated officer”
- site-specific asbestos management plans for sites with identified asbestos, and the provision of a template to facilitate input of relevant facility information
- formalised instruction on the engagement and management of service providers (QBuild or others) for work on departmental facilities to ensure both the department and service providers are clear on their respective responsibilities for the lifecycle of building-related works
- new definitions of what constitutes an “asbestos-related incident” vs “identification of deterioration” (a hazard), and the steps that must be taken for both
- a criterion for determining who is authorised to perform asbestos removal work at departmental facilities
- a criterion for when an asbestos in soils assessment must be obtained before excavation is conducted
- flexibility for a school to establish an asbestos in soil site management plan for the ongoing management of grounds in which asbestos has been discovered
- mandatory air monitoring for areas in which an asbestos-related incident that was notifiable to the WHS Regulator has occurred
- importantly, clearer delineation between departmental and service provider asbestos-related incidents, ensuring direct school involvement in service provider incidents only where the incident impacts, or potentially impacts, school community members or operations
- a change to when parent/carer letters for asbestos-related “student proximity incidents” – there is a change to when the letters are to be sent
- discontinuation of:
- asbestos specific annual awareness sessions for school personnel as the awareness information is now embedded in mandatory all-staff training (MAST), management foundations and the MAST key messages guide
- requirements for schools to review service provider safe work method statements – service providers will retain responsibility for preparing them, as required under WHS legislation.
The QTU provided feedback and analysis during the stakeholder consultation phase. The changed documents were released at the start of Term 3 to provide sufficient time for schools to prepare to implement the changes in Term 4.
The department has informed the QTU that new training modules are being rolled out in Term 3 for roles with asbestos management responsibilities. This training will highlight the various tools and templates available to assist application of the new procedures. Ready reckoners are also being launched to guide schools in the actions that that they have to take if they are to be prepared for the changes. The relevant procedures and tools will be located on the department’s Policy and Procedure Register and its intranet and internet pages.