Demolition and refurbishment

Do you know what you need to do before you demolish or refurbish your property, building or structure? Find out what the asbestos regulations mean for you before doing any work.

The Asbestos Regulations require a business or undertaking to identify asbestos or asbestos-containing materials (ACM) before any demolition or refurbishment work on a structure or plant is carried out at a work site if:

  • it was constructed or installed before 1 January 2000, or
  • asbestos has been identified, or
  • asbestos is likely to be present from time to time.

Minor or routine maintenance work or other minor work does not trigger this requirement.

Duty to identify

If your site, or structure fits the criteria above, then you have a duty to identify any asbestos before any refurbishment or demolition work. If it is not reasonably practicable to determine if there is asbestos or asbestos containing material (ACM) installed in the structure or plant then you must assume that asbestos is present.

If asbestos is found or assumed

You must ensure that the asbestos is removed before the refurbishment or demolition is started (unless demolition is required to gain access to the asbestos).

What is refurbishment?

Refurbishment is when you are carrying out work in a building or structure with the view to change or upgrade it.

This is different to minor maintenance, which is about maintaining what you have. For example, minor work on a kitchen such as fixing a plumbing fixture this would not be considered as refurbishment, however, if you are ripping cabinetry or flooring out for replacement then this would be considered as refurbishment. 

View our technical bulletin which defines refurbishment. 

What if it’s an emergency?

If an emergency occurs at a workplace, a structure or plant and it must be demolished, and asbestos is fixed to or installed in the structure or plant the PCBU must ensure, as far as possible, that before demolition begins a procedure is developed to reduce the risk of workers and persons around the demolition site being exposed to asbestos.

The PCBU must not begin demolition until they have notified WorkSafe about the emergency.