Asbestos is a group of minerals that readily separate into long flexible fibres. It occurs naturally in some rocks, sediments and soils globally and throughout Australia, including in various NSW regions.
Asbestos was mined for the manufacture of multiple products commonly used in homes, commercial properties, sheds and farm buildings because it was cheap, durable, flexible, and was a naturally insulating and fireproofing material. However, because asbestos fibres were proven to cause cancers and other lung diseases, asbestos was banned in Australia in 2003 with the NSW Government actively engaged in community education programs ensuring asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) and asbestos in its natural forms is managed safely.
Known as Naturally Occurring Asbestos or NOA, it’s found in some rocks, sediments and in soils and is not easily identified. Asbestos in its natural form can be blue (crocidolite), brown (amosite), green (anthophyllite tremolite and actinolite) or white (chrysotile, tremolite and actinolite). Blue and brown asbestos are not common in NSW. Only testing by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory, of a sample collected by a competent person, can confirm the presence of asbestos in any workplace including in building materials or in its natural forms in the environment.
Less than one percent of land in NSW is believed to contain NOA within 10 metres of the ground’s surface. In rural and regional NSW where NOA is known or suspected, to prevent disturbing NOA and risking exposure to asbestos fibres; it’s vital that property owners, managers and workers who may disturb the ground surface in their day-to-day work, take appropriate precautions to ensure NOA is identified and managed safely in accordance with regulations.
Find Out More About NOA in NSW
- NOA in NSW Map to access the online map
- Visit SafeWork NSW for more information about NOA, regulations and Codes of Practice for Asbestos Management or call 13 10 50.
- Visit the NSW Environment Protection Authority for regulations about disposal of asbestos and NOA or call 131 555
- Hotline: 1800 Asbestos (1800 272 378) provides free advice and guidance on asbestos-related issues in NSW and is operated by the SafeWork NSW Customer Contact Centre.
People who live and work in NSW in areas where Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA) is identified or suspected must ensure they are aware of NOA. They should identify the risks and develop an asbestos Management Plan (AMP) to eliminate or minimise the risk of asbestos fibre exposure to workers, families and communities. Property owners and managers are legally required under the NSW Work Health & Safety Regulations 2017 to develop an Asbestos Management Plan that addresses these risks, ensuring NOA is managed safely.
The Naturally Occurring Asbestos – Asbestos Management Plan Guide and a series of user-friendly templates has been developed to provide property managers, workers and farmers with information, recommendations and resources to develop an effective Asbestos Management Plan to manage NOA safely.
Key Facts About Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA)
- Asbestos is a group of minerals that readily separate into long flexible fibres.
- It occurs naturally in some rocks and sediments in various regions in NSW.
- NOA can be blue (crocidolite), brown (amosite), green (anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite) or white (chrysotile, tremolite and actinolite).
- Blue and brown asbestos are not common in NSW.
- NOA can be found in some rocks, sediments and in soils and is not easily identified.
- Less than 1% of land in NSW is believed to contain NOA within 10 metres of the ground’s surface.
- Only testing of a sample collected by a competent person conducted by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) laboratory, can confirm the presence of asbestos in any workplace including in building materials or in its natural forms in the environment.
- People who conduct work or activities on properties, where NOA is identified or is suspected are legally required to develop an Asbestos Management Plan under the NSW Work Health & Safety Regulations 2017.
- By identifying the potential for the occurrence of NOA people can determine the risks, control measures and the levels of controls required to manage it safely.
- If stable, covered and undisturbed, it is believed that NOA doesn’t pose a risk to health.
- NOA can become a health risk if weather conditions or work that may be undertaken (such as digging, cultivation and excavation) disturbs NOA and releases fibres that can be inhaled.
About The Naturally Occurring Asbestos – Asbestos Management Plan Guide
To assist landowners to understand NOA and manage it in accordance with regulations, the NSW Government Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities (HACA) has developed a series of useful online tools including the Naturally Occurring Asbestos – Asbestos Management Plan Guide.
The Guide Includes:
- What landowners need to know about NOA
- When NOA is a potential risk
- How to know if an Asbestos Management Plan for NOA is required
- The steps to take to develop an Asbestos Management Plan
- How to conduct a Risk Assessment for NOA
- Safe work procedures and control measures for NOA
- Useful resources and contact details for advice and information.
- DOWNLOAD THE GUIDE
NOA Templates and Fact Sheets Include:
- Asbestos Management Plan – Property Risk Assessment Template
- Asbestos Management Plan – Site Specific Template
- Incident Procedures & Report – Template
- Workers Training Requirements & Records – Template
- NOA RPE & PPE – FACT SHEET
- NOA Decontamination – FACT SHEET
- DOWNLOAD TEMPLATES
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