What is an asbestos register?

An asbestos register is a record that must be maintained in the workplace. The register is considered an important part of maintaining a safe and healthy work environment, and must be available to review upon request. However, if it is known that works are to be carried out which involve a risk of exposure to airborne asbestos, including prior to any demolition or refurbishment works, then a copy of the register must be provided to the person conducting such work, whether or not it is requested.

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) (Act), the register must include:

  • the location, type, and condition of any asbestos that is (or likely to be) present at the workplace; and
  • the date on which the asbestos was discovered.

You are required to maintain a register even if there is no asbestos identified in the workplace – the register must record that there is no asbestos identified, or is likely to be present from time to time at the workplace.

The register must be reviewed and as necessary revised if further asbestos is identified, removed, disturbed, sealed or enclosed at the workplace and prior to any demolition or refurbishment carried out at the workplace. There is no set time frame within which the register must be reviewed.

Does my building need to have one?

Under the Act, all places where a business is operated need to have an asbestos register, unless:

  • the building was built after the 31st of December 2003, and
  • no asbestos has been identified in that building, and
  • no asbestos is likely to be there from time to time.

Please note that the second and third exceptions above extend to anything that may be brought into the workplace. For example, some types of manufacturing plant or other machinery may contain asbestos. Working with or upon such plant and/or machinery would be sufficient to require a register.

Is it the responsibility of the tenant or the landlord to keep the register?

In accordance with the Act, the person conducting a business on the premises, and who has “management or control” of the workplace, is responsible for maintaining the register.
In practice it can be difficult to determine who has “management or control” of the workplace. This will depend on the unique circumstances at each workplace. However, the following general guidelines may be of some assistance:

  • The tenant will generally be responsible for maintaining the register in instances where the landlord is not involved in the operation of the business. If you are a tenant operating a business in a self-contained building and you have control over the running of the workplace you will likely be responsible for maintaining the register.
  • The circumstances may differ with respect to shared premises, such as a shopping centre. These premises usually come with their own letting agent/management team, who may have a degree of control over the safety procedures of the workplace. In that situation, it may be the building manager’s responsibility to maintain the register solely or in conjunction with the tenant and/or landlord.