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Local council inspections: Ensuring asbestos work compliance

Having managed hazardous remediation jobs for over 20 years, few things make the author more nervous than local council inspections. But despite the sweaty palms, ensuring asbestos removal work meets all compliance, health and environmental regulations is critical. Council inspectors serve an important role in verifying appropriate practices are followed to specification. Here’s what to expect from these visits and tips for a smooth inspection.

Inspection scope 

Councils are primarily concerned with two aspects of removals – paperwork/reporting and site practices. Proper asbestos waste transport certificates and disposal receipts will be closely checked to track material movement offsite. Inspectors will also review removal methodology statements outlining the step-by-step process proposed. Photos may be requested providing visual confirmation of aspects like enclosure set up.

In terms of site practices, inspectors will visually confirm elements like negative air extraction units, decontamination stations, PPE use and asbestos storage. Breaches identified here can halt jobs entirely pending corrective actions which may include additional sampling. There are also cases of substantial fines for non-compliances around asbestos handling or removal specifications.

Smooth inspection outcomes 

Through both good and bad experiences over the years, the author applies three core strategies to ensure local council inspections proceed smoothly:

  1. Maintain a sharply detailed asbestos removal management plan covering all compliance aspects like notifications, waste tracking forms and risk assessments. Having this paperwork readily accessible saves chasing documents during tense inspections.
  2. Communicate ahead of inspections where possible to clarify scope and information required. This allows pre-assembly of removal plans, risk assessments and other documentation saving time.
  3. Display exemplary site practice keeping the inspector isolated from work zones via viewing windows. Staging waste load-outs to align with visits means less waiting time onsite.

The author ultimately sees council inspections as collaborative – working mutually to guarantee community and worker safety while enabling prompt project continuance.

Asbestos removal compliance areas

Inspectors focus on various compliance areas including:

  • Notifications – Confirming councils approved removal/scope details like location, dates, quantities etc.
  • Signage – Clear warning signs should isolate the site with business details provided.
  • PPE – Suitable respiratory protection, disposable suits, gloves etc. must be utilised.
  • Negative Air Extraction – Units actively filtering air preventing fibre migration.
  • Decontamination Stations – Multi-stage showering units to clean personnel/equipment.


Inspection visit lead times

Depending on council workloads, inspection visits may occur:

  • Just prior – Confirming set up meets methodology plan before works commence.
  • During removal – Monitoring practices and ensuring consistent standards.
  • Upon completion – Verifying site clean-up and obtaining clearance certificate.


Collaborative safety culture 

While strict in monitoring compliance, the author ultimately sees council inspectors as sharing the mutual goal of safe asbestos handling and removal. Developing a collaborative safety culture based on transparency and proactive communication means both inspectors and removalists collectively protecting community exposures.


Local council checks on removal worksites ensure compliance to asbestos regulations and best practices are upheld. While stressful initially, seeing inspectors as colleagues jointly responsible for safe outcomes takes any friction out of the process. Prepare removal management plans meticulously, communicate proactively and showcase site processes transparently. This makes inspection success a near-certainty in 20+ years of experience.

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