Asbestos testing in Victoria bolstered by new MoU


Monday, 20 November, 2023

Asbestos testing in Victoria bolstered by new MoU

As part of the lead-in to National Asbestos Awareness Week (20–26 November), the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) and the Victorian Asbestos Eradication Agency (VAEA) have confirmed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to ensure the reliable testing of asbestos in government buildings in Victoria. The MoU will ensure that these buildings have been tested against national and international standards by NATA-accredited suppliers.

Prior to being banned in 2003, asbestos was used extensively because of its sound-absorption properties; its tensile strength; its resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage; and its durability and affordability. By 1990, Victoria was using 60% of all asbestos imports into Australia. There are an estimated 6.4 million tonnes of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) currently in our built environment.

As part of the improvements to workplace health and safety for the implementation of the VAEA’s prioritised asbestos removal program, the VAEA requires that all stages of air monitoring, when working with potential onsite asbestos, must be performed by a NATA-accredited facility. NATA CEO Jennifer Evans said accreditation is crucial to ensuring Australians’ safety, while VAEA CEO Simone Stevenson said the MoU represents a step forward in her organisation’s mission to reduce the risks associated with asbestos in government-owned buildings.

“The VAEA is working to improve the standards of asbestos removal and occupational hygiene services in Victoria,” Stevenson said. “We have two new prequalification categories on the Victorian Government’s construction supplier register. These categories ensure suppliers hired by government have the necessary skills and accreditation for asbestos inspection and removal. The MoU with NATA ensures Victoria’s standards governing asbestos removal and occupational hygiene remain at the forefront of international practice.”

The VAEA is an independent body and a subsidiary of WorkSafe Victoria, established to coordinate asbestos removal from government-owned buildings and sites. The partnership between VAEA and NATA will continue to help prevent asbestos exposure, reduce the risk of asbestos-related diseases and create safer Victorian workplaces and communities.

“With more than 4000 Australians dying every year from asbestos-related illnesses, the VAEA is committed to removing asbestos from all government-owned buildings,” Stevenson said. “The accreditation process requires that NATA-accredited labs seek continual improvements and assessment by subject matter experts. By directing people to NATA-accredited laboratories, we can have confidence that contemporary practices are helping to raise standards in asbestos testing.”

NATA has an MoU with the Commonwealth of Australia, as well as other state government agencies, but this represents the first agreement between NATA and a workplace health and safety agency.

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Originally published here.

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