Asbestos Registers - Do Commercial Properties Need Them?

When an Asbestos Register is required

The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Qld) (WHS Regulations) will require commercial property owners to ensure that an up to date “asbestos register” is maintained unless:

  • there is no workplace operated from the property; or
  • the workplace is a building that was constructed after 31 December 1989; and
  • no asbestos has been identified at the workplace; and
  • no asbestos is likely to be present at the workplace from time to time.

What is an Asbestos Register?

If the WHS Regulations require an asbestos register to be maintained, it must be prepared by a competent person and record:

  • any asbestos or asbestos-containing materials identified at the workplace or likely to be present at the workplace from time to time; and
  • the date, location, type and condition of the asbestos or asbestos-containing materials identified; or
  • that no asbestos or asbestos-containing material is identified or is likely to be present from time to time. 

Further reporting obligations

Where an asbestos register identifies the presence of asbestos or asbestos-containing material (or that either are likely to be present), the WHS Regulations will also require commercial property owners to prepare an asbestos management plan. The asbestos management plan must include information that relates to the following:

  • the identification of asbestos or asbestos-containing materials;
  • decisions, and reasons for decisions, about the management of asbestos; and
  • procedures for detailing incidents or emergencies involving asbestos or asbestos-containing materials at the workplace; and
  • workers carrying out work involving asbestos.

Commercial property owners should ensure that both the asbestos register and the asbestos management plan are kept readily accessible and updated in accordance with the WHS Regulations.

Tips for commercial property owners

Commercial property owners should ensure that they are aware of their obligations under the WHS Regulations and comply with them so that:

  • statutory penalties are not imposed against them;
  • anyone carrying out work at the property or work at the property are aware of the presence of the asbestos and can satisfy themselves of the risk of exposure to airborne asbestos (and take appropriate precautions).

Commercial property owners should also ensure that when selling their property they provide their buyer with a copy of their asbestos register and asbestos management plan (where applicable).

Tips for Buyers

 At the time of negotiating a contract for the purchase of a commercial property (or during the due diligence period), a buyer should ask the Seller or the Seller’s agent for a copy of the property’s asbestos register and asbestos management plan. Where no register or plan is held, a buyer should determine whether the WHS Regulations require them to be held in relation to the property. This may require a buyer to make enquiries of the seller, Council and physical inspections.

By making these enquiries at an early stage, it will allow a buyer the opportunity to request the Contract be amended to address the preparation of the reports prior to settlement or simply enable a buyer to factor in the cost of obtaining these reports post-settlement ahead of time.    

Our commercial law team can assist commercial property owners and buyers to their asbestos obligations in relation to commercial property. For any queries, please contact our office on 07 4052 0700.

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