6 Steps to Take if Asbestos is Discovered in Your Organisation

by | 25 Feb 2024

With the recent asbestos discovered across Sydney in schools, near hospitals and other public spaces, it’s a timely reminder to ensure your Emergency Response Plan is up to date, including how to manage incidents when hazardous materials like asbestos have been exposed.


If asbestos (or other hazardous materials) is found in your organisation, it’s crucial to take immediate action to protect yourself and others. We have provided 6 steps to take below if asbestos is discovered:


1. Do not disturb the area

If you suspect or discover asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), avoid touching, disturbing, or attempting to remove them yourself, as it may lead to further contamination and health hazards. Asbestos fibres are released into the air when materials containing asbestos are damaged or disturbed, posing a significant health risk.


2. Contact emergency services

Asbestos removal is a highly specialised and dangerous task that should only be carried out by trained professionals. Emergency services will assess the situation and take steps to remove the asbestos from your organisation safely.


3. Limit access

If possible, and at the direction of emergency services, restrict access to the area where asbestos is suspected to minimise the risk of exposure. Warn others in the vicinity about the potential presence of asbestos and advise them to evacuate the area until further action can be taken.


4. Seal off the area

If the asbestos-containing material is damaged and releasing fibres into the air, seal off the area immediately and notify emergency services. Use plastic sheeting and duct tape to cover vents, doorways, and any other openings that could allow asbestos fibres to spread to other parts of the building.


5. Include and follow guidelines in the Emergency Response Plan

Ensure your Emergency Response Plan is up to date with the latest guidelines regarding potential exposure to hazardous materials. The plan should include an evacuation plan, reference to a hazardous material register, reference to the business continuity plan, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), processes to contain the area, and who to contact.


6. Seek medical advice

If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos or are experiencing symptoms such as persistent coughing, shortness of breath, or chest pain, seek medical attention immediately.


By following the steps outlined above and having an up-to-date Emergency Response Plan, you can effectively manage a situation where asbestos or other hazardous material has been discovered, minimising the risk of exposure. Remember, prioritising safety is paramount when dealing with hazardous materials.


If you would like to learn more about how Bounce Readiness can assist your organisation in updating its Emergency Response Plan, please get in touch.

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