Fibrous minerals, including asbestos
Guidance on fibrous minerals, including asbestos, in mining operations, management plans and licensed asbestos removal companies.
Note that although some guidance material was prepared under the auspices of previous departments and divisions, it is still valid.
Guidance on fibrous minerals in mining operations
The guideline below provides guidance on naturally occurring fibrous minerals, such as asbestos, in mining operations, including the types of asbestos likely to be found during mining in Western Australia, potential health risks and recommended control strategies.
In particular, the presence of contaminant asbestos minerals in mines has been the focus of extensive concern and control within the industry.
The health risks that may arise through the inhalation of airborne asbestos fibres are well established and publicised.
Employers have a duty to ensure that worker exposure to any airborne mineral fibres is within regulatory standards and as low as reasonably practicable. The guideline outlines what could be covered in a fibrous minerals management plan (Appendix 3).
The information sheet below addresses some frequently asked questions on cracker dust, which is used throughout the Pilbara. Actinolite fibres have been found in some batches of cracker dust from Newman.
National exposure standards
The national exposure standard for all asbestos fibres is now 0.1 fibres per millilitre (f/mL). Previously, the exposure standard for chrysotile asbestos was 1.0 f/mL but this was changed in 2003. A list of all national exposure standards is available from Safe Work Australia.
National asbestos ban
Asbestos has been used extensively throughout the construction industry in WA, including on minesites. Common examples are asbestos cement sheeting, thermal and acoustic insulation.
A national ban on the use, sale or importation of asbestos took effect on 31 December, 2003. A fact sheet on the ban and its implications is available from WorkSafe.
This national ban has been given effect in the minerals industry by an amendment to the Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995 (WA).
Guidance on management plans
Safe Work Australia's website provides an index of national standards, codes of practice and related guidance notes, which can be sorted by topic.
Revised codes of practice and guidelines for asbestos were published in 2005. The Code of practice for the management and control of asbestos in workplaces [NOHSC: 2018(2005)] contains very useful guidance for the development of asbestos management plans (see Part 8). Note: The guideline can be obtained through the link above.
Licensed asbestos removal companies
- Personal or household - contact your local council.
- Commercial or construction - call WorkSafe on 9327 8777.
- Mine sites or mineral exploration - call 9358 8092.
The following links provide some good working examples and further information on asbestos.
- Health and Safety Executive - Asbestos the hidden killer
- Health and Safety Executive - Asbestos essentials
- Health and Safety Executive - Asbestos image gallery