Coffey Environments awarded Australia’s first accreditation for asbestos clearance inspections

Tuesday, 01 June, 2010

Coffey International subsidiary Coffey Environments has been awarded Australia’s first accreditation for asbestos and hazardous materials clearance inspections by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA).

The business is now the only consultancy in Australia to hold all four national accreditations for asbestos and hazardous materials management work - surveying, air monitoring/fibre counting, fibre identification and clearance inspections.

As part of the accreditation process, all internal procedures for asbestos clearance undertaken by Coffey Environments were submitted to NATA for peer review, explained Lee McAlister-Smiley, occupational health and safety group leader for Coffey Environments in Queensland.

“Overall, the accreditation process took about eight months. Once all our procedures were submitted to NATA, two independent assessors conducted the peer review and we were required to demonstrate our competency and amend some procedures.

“The accreditation was timely as we were able to change some of our procedures ahead of the implementation of recently announced legislation changes, ensuring we are well positioned to assist our clients.”

The introduction of the Fair Work Act in January and the move to national occupational health and safety laws are likely to impact the way in which Australian businesses manage asbestos and other hazardous materials.

Occupational health and safety is set to undergo major reform as the country moves towards one set of laws in this area, developed by Safe Work Australia. Each state and territory will be required to pass mirror laws by December 2011.

Asbestos-containing materials are not only found in commercial and industrial structures, but also in refineries, vessels and offshore facilities and contaminant materials in mineral ores. Under the new laws, a wide range of facilities may be newly identified as sites that require a plan to manage asbestos.

“An up-to-date asbestos register and an asbestos management plan provide businesses with information to operate their sites safely and to cost-effectively manage asbestos-containing material in the workplace,” said Lee.

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