Strong risk management practises will deliver asbestos free property portfolios.

A decade or so ago ‘urban sprawl’ was thought to be key to the sustainable growth of our urban centres. It meant living the dream and buying a house in the suburbs with a big back yard.

But today a quick commute to work has become preferable to mowing lawns on the weekend. Limited space means that brownfields have become the new greenfields – with building up instead of out, improving local infrastructure, and gentrification the new goals of city planners and developers.

And so industrial buildings are turned into funky warehouse apartments, and old architecture is knocked down to make way for the new. It’s a great way to revitalise our urban centres, but the holders of these massive property portfolios – including government buildings, national utilities, hospitality operators, banks and so on – have a duty of care when it comes to managing the refurbishment or disposal of their assets safely.

Whether it’s a new development or bringing new life to an established building there are many risks to consider – one of the revitalisation risks is asbestos.

Local, state and federal governments aim to make all their buildings asbestos free. But until that’s achieved, the interim solution is to maintain healthy, risk free assets through the implementation of appropriate, and effective asbestos management plans.

Asbestos can be hazardous if ignored – and often it is.

The management of asbestos in buildings presents real and ongoing challenges. Many government assets were built before 1990 – which means it’s more than likely they were built using asbestos containing materials (ACM). And unless they’ve been completely refurbished post 1990, it’s also more than likely that these materials are still there.

Having a thorough understanding of the quantum of the risks, the science behind the risk assessment and the steps needed to manage the risks is essential to good management.

Asbestos containing materials can be uncovered in a number of ways:

  1. Asset disposal (end of life)
  2. Asset upgrades (mid-life)
  3. Accidental discovery or damage of ACM – often involving a higher exposure risk
  4. Programmed asbestos management and removal through risk classification

In the context of an asset’s whole-of-life costs, options 1 and 2 won’t reduce the cost of ACM risk management but they do have the potential to prolong the risk of exposure – to visitors, office and maintenance workers.

Option 3 has the potential for an increase in costs due to cross contamination, and will also prolong exposure risk.

Option 4 will result in about the same costs as options 1, 2 and 3; however the risk of exposure is greatly reduced, even with the ACM remaining in-situ.

Our solution

When it comes to delivering brownfield projects successfully and ensuring the appropriate level of investment of public funds throughout Australia, Coffey has developed a methodology that follows a robust, time tested, risk averse, and auditable trail of delivery.

Our ACM and OH&S teams offer the highest level of skills and experience available, with decades of environmental and project management delivery putting us at the forefront of asbestos risk management.

How can Coffey help?

The removal of ACM will reduce concerns from employees in the workplace, remove detrimental impacts to health and business, and ultimately protect the usability and value of your assets.

But risk can’t be managed by following the exact same steps every time.

Coffey’s certified occupational hygienists have the highest level of combined experience and certification available to deliver these projects – our people have a genuine, high care attitude and an intimate knowledge of the nature of this hazardous material.

When you understand the risks, you can manage them. When your risk is managed you can focus on the business at hand and not be distracted with the ‘what if’.