Low density asbestos fibre board (LDB) is a lightly compressed board which looks similar to asbestos cement (AC) sheeting or plasterboard. It is different because it can be easily bent by hand or dented by soft pressure. It is also sometimes referred to as asbestos insulating board.
LDB was manufactured from the 1950s to the 1970s as flat and perforated sheet products and was used for wall and ceiling panels, thermal and acoustic insulation, fire protection and for general building work in industrial and commercial buildings, education facilities and domestic premises. It was sold under product names such as ‘Asbestolux’ and ‘Duralux’ and is unlikely to be found in buildings constructed after 1982. See the LDB photo gallery for more information.
LDB contains up to 70 per cent by volume of asbestos fibres and is generally composed of amosite (brown asbestos) and chrysotile (white asbestos) in a calcium silicate plaster. If in good condition and left undisturbed, LDB presents a relatively low risk of releasing asbestos fibres and causing harm. However, because it is softer than AC sheeting, LDB can break up more easily when disturbed, which increases the likelihood of exposure to airborne asbestos fibres.
LDB tends to bend or flex when pressure is first applied and then will tear rather than snap once it reaches its breaking point. Nails and other fasteners cannot easily be removed from LDB without it tearing and breaking into very small pieces. Maintenance and service tasks, such as sawing, cutting or drilling into LDB without appropriate controls can result in a significant release of asbestos fibres.
The maintenance and service work described in the LDB approved methods does not have to be performed by a class A licensed asbestos removalist. However, workers must be familiar with the LDB approved methods and be competent to perform the work.
Training and competencies for maintenance and service work on LDB
The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (the Regulation) requires all workers carrying out asbestos-related work are trained in the identification and safe handling of, and suitable control measures for, asbestos and ACMs.
Training in relation to maintenance and service work on LDB must include:
donning and removing personal protective equipment
decontaminating equipment and the work environment and personal decontamination
transport and disposal of asbestos waste.
Some maintenance and service work on LDB (e.g. drilling holes) also requires training in:
The training can be standalone in content or incorporated within other training programs or packages, and provided directly by an employer, a training provider engaged by an employer or a registered training organisation, as long as it meets the training elements and performance criteria.
Employers must keep documentation of their workers’ LDB training record and provide it to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland inspectors on request. Workers must complete LDB training every five years and must be competent in each of the training elements outlined in the low density asbestos fibre board approved method training record(DOCX, 802KB), as well as competent to perform the trade related skills relevant to each of the approved methods.
Reviewing and updating asbestos registers
A person with management or control of a workplace who has a duty to keep an asbestos register should ensure that the asbestos register for each of their assets is reviewed and ensure that any LDB listed on the register is identified as friable. If there is uncertainty about whether a suspected material is LDB, a sample of the material should be tested, or it should be assumed that the material is LDB until confirmed otherwise.
A person with management or control of a workplace should continue to make a copy of the asbestos register available to businesses or contractors that will be carrying out any demolition, removal, refurbishment, maintenance or service work at the workplace, before the work starts.
Updating asbestos management plans
An asbestos management plan for a place that contains LDB should be reviewed and updated to specify:
any removal of LDB is only to be performed by a class A licenced asbestos removalist under friable removal conditions
any maintenance or service work on LDB is to be carried out according to the relevant approved method and is to be performed by workers who have completed the training specified by the approved methods.