Did you know that asbestos is a naturally occurring substance? It might surprise you to learn that it can actually be found in rock, sediment and soil throughout regional NSW.
While the chances of coming into contact naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) are slim, workers and residents in affected areas should still know what to look for and how to manage it.
So what do you need to do?
NOA is found in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes, and can be difficult to spot. The SafeWork website includes a handy map to let you know whether you’re in a low, medium or high risk region. If you’re conducting work in an affected area, take the following precautions:
- Limit dust-generating work and avoid handling rocks and soil that could contain NOA.
- Consider the weather. Try not to do work that disturbs the ground on windy days, or if conditions are dry and dusty.
- Wet down areas if necessary, particularly when planting, seeding and digging.
- If you think you’ve found NOA, cover with clean soil, rock or other material where practical.
- If you control a workplace that is affected, you should have an asbestos management plan in place. This should include providing PPE to any workers who might be disturbing the ground and training your workers.
- Consider calling in a licensed asbestos assessor or an occupational hygienist to test the site for NOA.
The Heads of Asbestos Coordination authorities have also developed a video for people living and working in regional areas that outlines what to look for and what you can do.
Remember, when in doubt, find out. If you suspect you might be living or working in a NOA area, visit asbestosawareness.com.au or call 1800 Asbestos (1800 272 378).