How The WHS Regulations 2022 Effect Hazardous Materials
This year marks a transitional 12 months as the new Work Health and Safety (General) Regulations 2022 (WA) take place. This major update to WA legislation aims to harmonise Western Australia’s WHS guidelines with those of other states. The full effect of the new regulations will come into effect on 31 May 2023.
In the meantime, we’ve created a list of the major transitional provisions you should be aware of. We also explore changes to asbestos management, licence terminology, and poignantly, the introduction of Licensed Asbestos Assessors.
Table of Contents
In the 12 months between 31 May 2022 and 31 May 2023, there will be a transition. We’ve gathered the largest hazardous material changes you must be aware of in terms of transitional and savings provisions.
- Duty holders must create an asbestos register during the transition period, which must be prepared and kept at the workplace. Exemptions apply for buildings constructed after 31 December 2003 where no asbestos is identified at the workplace.
- Both classes of licensed asbestos removal workers will get their licenses extended for an additional year at no cost to the worker.
- Class A Unrestricted allows workers to remove friable asbestos.
- Class B Restricted allows workers to remove non-friable asbestos.
- During the transition period, clearance inspections may be conducted for both classes of asbestos removal work by an independent competent person.
- Work that formerly required a Class 3 Demolition licence may be conducted without a licence. Current holders of Class 3 demolition licences will receive a pro-rata refund of their licence fee, calculated on the unexpired duration of their licence.
- Duty holders will have one year to comply with the new dust exposure standards and requirements.
- A person with management or control of a workplace that is required to prepare an emergency plan will have one year to comply with new WHS regulations.
- Duty holders may comply with their duties under the current requirements of the OSH r. 5.3(2), which provide alternatives to the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, 7th revised edition (GHS).
- Except for construction sites, which are already required to have residual current devices (RCDs), duty holders will have one year to prepare for the requirements imposed by WHS Regulation 164.
- Risk assessments and safe work method statements (SWMS) proposed under the OSH Regulations will be deemed to be the equivalent under WHS Regulations until an aspect of the document must be reviewed, or 12 months, whichever occurs first.
All other transitional changes and the full details of each can be found on the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (WA) website.
Introduction of Licensed Asbestos Assessors (LAAs)
One of the largest changes brought by the new regulations is the introduction of Licensed Asbestos Assessors (LAAs). The requirement of asbestos assessors to obtain a license is currently required in all other states, so this change will harmonise WA with a more national approach.
What this means, is that once the regulations take full effect, air monitoring must be included during friable removal and all friable clearance inspections must be conducted by an LAA. There will be penalties in place for those who hire or carry out friable asbestos removal work that is not supervised by an LAA. The new regulations also clearly outline the required training and experience required to obtain an LAA license.
All members of Hendry’s Hazardous Materials Team are LAAs.
What is a Class A unrestricted asbestos license?
The ‘Unrestricted’ license terminology will change to ‘Class A’ asbestos removal licence in keeping with other states’ terminology. The training needed to obtain this licence teaches the correct removal of friable asbestos.
Additionally, the following removal work can be carried out by a Class A:
- Removing friable asbestos
- Work that is required to be licensed under regulation 487
What is a Class B restricted asbestos licence?
The ‘Restricted Removalists’ license terminology will change to ‘Class B’ asbestos removal license in keeping with other states’ terminology. The training needed to obtain this licence teaches the correct removal of non-friable asbestos.
Additionally, the following removal work can be carried out by a Class B:
- Work that is required to be licensed under regulation 487, but
- Does not include Class A asbestos removal work
Changes to asbestos management
So, what do these changes mean for asbestos management? Primarily, from 31 May 2023, the frequency of re-inspections will change from annually to every 5 years.
Chapter 8 of the Work Health Safety (General) Regulations 2022 (WA) exclusively addresses the management of asbestos, related risks and duties and their applications. We suggest that you read through this chapter for additional understanding of the changes taking place.
If you’d like support from our nationally accredited Hazardous Materials Team, please get in touch.
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