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Government and agency roles

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Queensland Government

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland

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.

Relevant legislation:

Work Health and Safety Act 2011
Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace Code of Practice 2011
How to Safely Remove Asbestos Code of Practice 2011

Queensland Health

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.

Relevant legislation:

Public Health Act 2005
Public Health Regulation 2005

Department of Environment and Heritage Protection

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) 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.

EHP's main role is to license businesses that transport asbestos waste and landfills that accept asbestos waste.  EHP can fine or prosecute businesses that breach their environmental authority conditions or that operate without an environmental licence.

EHP 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, EHP 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 EHP via the department's website at www.ehp.qld.gov.au or by contacting 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

Relevant legislation:

Environmental Protection Act 1994
Environmental Protection Regulation 2008
Environmental Protection (Waste Regulation) Regulation 2000
Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011
Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation 2011

Department of Natural Resources and Mines

The Department of Natural Resources and Mines 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.

Relevant legislation:

Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999
Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Regulation 2001
Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999
Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2001

Department of Housing and Public Works

The Department of Housing 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.

Residential Tenancies Authority

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:

  • a client contact centre: provides tenancy information to tenants, residents, agents, lessors, property managers, rooming accommodation providers and moveable dwelling managers
  • dispute resolution: offers conciliation services for tenancy disputes, generally by telephone
  • investigations:  investigates breaches of the Act that carry penalties for non-compliance.

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.

Relevant legislation:

Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008

Local Government

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.

Relevant legislation:

Public Health Act 2005
Public Health Regulation 2005

Australian Government

Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency

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.

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

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 1300 363 263, email information@customs.gov.au, or visit www.customs.gov.au.

Relevant legislation:

Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956

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