Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ), regulates the management, control, and removal of asbestos in the workplace.
WHSQ issues licences to businesses carrying out licensed asbestos removal work and to individuals carrying out asbestos assessor functions, such as air monitoring and clearance certificates for friable asbestos removal work.
Public health legislation applies to asbestos-related activities carried out at non-workplaces (e.g. by homeowners at domestic premises). This legislation is administered by Queensland Health but responsibility is with local governments. This means local governments are responsible for managing and responding to asbestos incidents in domestic settings.
The Department of Environment and Science (DES) is responsible for making sure that businesses and individuals comply with the Environmental Protection Act 1994, which puts legal obligations on people who do activities that might pollute the environment.
DES's main role is to license businesses that transport asbestos waste and landfills that accept asbestos waste. DES can fine or prosecute businesses that breach their environmental authority conditions or that operate without an environmental licence.
DES also has a role in investigating fires and other incidents where both asbestos and chemicals are released to the environment to see whether someone has breached the Environmental Protection Act.
When asbestos waste has been illegally dumped, DES can issue a fine or prosecute the person who has dumped the asbestos under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011. Removal of the asbestos waste is the responsibility of the land owner. Members of the public can report littering or illegal dumping to DES via the department's website or by contacting 13 QGOV (13 74 68).
The Department of Resources administers legislation relating to safety and health at mines in Queensland. This legislation applies to asbestos containing materials and naturally occurring asbestos at mine sites.
The Department of Energy and Public Works undertakes a lead agency role on asbestos management for assets managed or controlled by government departments. Each department is responsible for managing the asbestos containing materials in their assets.
The Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) provides tenancy information, bond management, dispute resolution, investigation, policy and education services.
The RTA assists tenants, lessors, agents, residents and providers with services that include:
People who contact the RTA with a complaint involving asbestos and a rented residential premises which is not maintained and in good repair may find that the matter can be dealt with under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act. However, the issue may need to be transferred to 13 QGOV (13 74 68) for referral to another government agency, for example, if the complaint is about work carried out at a residential premises by a contractor.
Local government manages many landfills and transfer stations where the licences allow asbestos to be accepted for disposal.
Councils that have accepted delegation under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 can use this legislation to manage litter and illegal dumping incidents within their local government boundaries, including for cases involving the illegal dumping of asbestos materials.
Local government are also responsible for managing and responding to asbestos incidents in non-workplace settings (e.g. domestic premises) under public health legislation.
The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency has been established to provide a national focus on asbestos issues which go beyond workplace safety to encompass environmental and public health issues.
The Agency has broad functions including encouraging, coordinating, monitoring and reporting on the implementation of National Strategic Plan on Asbestos Awareness and Management.
The Agency also manages the National Asbestos Exposure Register which records the details of members of the Australian community who think they may have been exposed to asbestos containing materials.
The Agency is not a regulator and does not enforce legislative requirements for asbestos.
An Australia-wide ban on the importation, manufacture and use of all forms of asbestos and asbestos containing products took effect from 31 December 2003. To complement this ban, the import prohibition on asbestos under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations was also introduced. Importing asbestos into Australia is only allowed under very limited circumstances. For more information, contact the Customs Information and Support Centre on 131 881, email email@example.com, or visit Australian Border Force website.
The Queensland Government agencies and local councils that administer asbestos-related legislation do so through a collaborative service delivery model. When an event involving asbestos containing materials or an asbestos incident occurs, these agencies can refer to the ‘Management of asbestos incidents’ document to assist in determining which agency has jurisdiction to respond to and manage the event. This document is a guide only and does not cover every possible scenario that could occur. In complex or unusual events not covered by this document, the incident can be referred to the Interagency Asbestos Group to agree which agency is most appropriate to lead the investigation.