Warning! Use of High-Pressure Water Spray Equipment on Asbestos Roofs

The QLD Government has issued a warning on the use of high-pressure water spray equipment on asbestos roofs after two separate incidents in August.

“In August 2021, as part of cleaning, sealing & painting at a house residence, a home maintenance business used high pressure water spray equipment on an asbestos cement roof. Asbestos contaminated dust and debris (ACD) was spread across the yard, in vegetation, on adjoining structures, as well as the driveway and a car. ACD also spread on to a neighbour’s driveway and car, and onto the street and into council drains.”

“In a separate incident also in August, a painting contractor appears to have used high pressure water spray equipment on a roof believed to have asbestos containing material  ACM debris was distributed on parts of the property and two neighbouring houses.”

It is important to note that these findings are not yet confirmed, and investigations are continuing into the exact cause.

QLD Law

It is illegal in Queensland to use high pressure water spray equipment on asbestos, including asbestos cement roofs, fences and walls.

This is because when used on asbestos-containing materials (ACM) they can generate dangerous airborne asbestos fibres.

Furthermore, high pressure water spray equipment destroys the binding matrix of asbestos-containing materials ACM, that leaves cement debris and asbestos in the air resulting in widespread contamination that puts people’s health at risk.

Responsibility for Bodies Corporate

While the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) primarily refers to the responsibilities of businesses and workplaces much of the legislation also covers strata schemes and bodies corporate.

Under the legislation, as a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) a body corporate has a duty to ensure workers and others are not exposed to the risk of airborne asbestos.

A body corporate must also take all reasonable steps to ensure that any asbestos-containing materials (ACM) have been identified at the property. If the body corporate cannot identify ACM, but a competent person reasonably believes materials may contain asbestos, then the body corporate must assume asbestos is present.

Avoiding Similar Incidents

High-pressure water spray equipment should never be used to prepare for painting, coating or sealing of asbestos cement roofs as there is method of use that can effectively capture or suppress asbestos fibres.

Before carrying out maintenance of a roof, consider whether asbestos could be present. When working on buildings constructed before 1990, it is likely asbestos could be present in roofing and other sheet materials.

Identifying asbestos or ACM is the first step in managing the risk of exposure to asbestos.

Managing the Asbestos Risk at Your Strata Property

It’s your duty as a body corporate to manage the risks of asbestos and to protect residents, workers and visitors to your strata property from illness.

You need to ensure that you’re aware of any asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACM) at your property and enact a 4-step process to manage the risk.

Step 1: Identify the Hazard

Step 2: Assess the risk

Step 3: Control the risk

Step 4: Ongoing Risk Management

Use this link to see how Strata Umbrella can assist your body corporate in managing the risk of asbestos and to stay compliant with all laws and regulations.