Signage Installation Project

We are committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of all that work, study or visit our campus. Our Callaghan campus is over 50 years old and some of the buildings contain building materials that have in the past been manufactured using hazardous building materials. These bonded materials are safe unless disturbed. To enhance our compliance with the NSW Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 we are installing a range of new hazardous material building signage across our campuses.

The University is taking action to comply with the NSW Work Health and Safety Regulations 2017 which require all organisations to manage hazardous building materials. To reduce the health and safety risk the labels that are being installed will assist with minimising the risk of disturbing these materials that could result in exposures to dust. This includes providing information in the form of labeling as a warning to contractors undertaking works across the campuses who may have to disturb the material.

On completion of the audit of all our infrastructure assets the next step was to minimise risk of unintentional disruption of these materials. To minimise disruption to classes and workplaces we are rolling out a phased approach to the installation of hazardous materials signage across our campuses. This project will require the installation of building signs and individual asbestos warning labels across our campuses. This is a significant undertaking and UON is committed to ensure we complete the installation as quickly as possible reducing the risk of un-intentional disruption. As such we will commence the project in all areas where contractors may undertake work as phase 1 of the installation project. Building signs will then be installed to minimise disruption to classes and workspaces with installation of individual rooms undertake thereafter.

Absolutely. Scientific and medical evidence suggests that simply living in a building that contains asbestos is not dangerous as long as the asbestos product is in good condition; that is undamaged and undisturbed. The audit identified that the existing hazardous building materials, including ACM, are in good condition (undamaged and undisturbed) so that no harmful fibres can be released unless disturbed by cutting, drilling or breaking. The audit is a routine process which enables UON to maintain our campus buildings in a safe condition to ensure the ongoing safety and welfare of our staff, students, contractors and others who access our campuses.

The University labels asbestos containing materials (ACM) as an additional risk control measure to ensure ACM is identifiable to anyone who may disturb the ACM. Improved identification will help minimise the risk of unintentional and / or uncontrolled disturbance of the ACM and the release of air-born asbestos fibres.

The University owns and occupies buildings constructed and refurbished from 1965 to the current day. Asbestos was commonly used in commercial building products and residential building products in Australia until 1985. As a consequence, some University buildings have ACM.

Asbestos fibres are microscopic and often not visible and health risks primarily occur when they are disturbed. The presence of ACM does not automatically introduce a health risk. ACM in good condition, sealed, isolated or left undisturbed are unlikely to release fibres into the air and thus present a very low risk to someone’s health.

ACM becomes a potential health risk when large volumes of fibres are released into the air which can occur if the material is cut, drilled or broken up. When the fibres become airborne they can be breathed in and over a long period of time these fibres can lodge in the lung and cause damage. It is therefore important that if work has to take place where ACM exists special precautions are taken to keep protect the area, minimise fibre production and monitor fibres in the air during and after the work. Another precaution is to ensure these materials are identified and that is why signage is being installed across our campuses.

Under usual operations asbestos containing materials do not have to be removed if they are in good condition. However when a construction or refurbishment project occurs at UON, a detailed risk assessment is undertaken which includes a reference to the Hazardous Materials Register. This will identify if asbestos containing materials are present and enable planning for the risk controls which will be implemented during the project to protect the health and safety of our staff, students and wider community during removal when this is required.

The University has had a Hazardous Materials Register for many years and periodically an audit is conducted to check the locations of known Hazardous Materials e.g. lead paint, synthetic mineral fibres and asbestos containing materials (ACM). The latest audit was completed in 2016 and it provided UON with updated information on the location and condition of materials, which has now been incorporated in the updated Hazardous Materials Register. The Register provides information on what additional actions are required to minimise exposure and it should be noted that the only ongoing action is to continue to monitor the condition of materials

There are standards for the signs required to identify is materials may contain asbestos. The below are the two types of labelling notifications the UON will be installing.

Your UON is a safe place to work and socialise. Materials identified in the register will remain safe if not disturbed. You can speak to your supervisor, the UON Health and Safety team representative or contact IFS Customer Service team on x16500.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.