Use of all types of asbestos has been banned in Singapore since 1989. However, asbestos is still present in many existing buildings and plant constructed up until the1980’s and still presents a risk to health when these buildings are being renovated, demolished or during maintenance. The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) have released new and enhanced regulations for work involving asbestos. The WSH (Asbestos) Regulations replaced the existing Factories (Asbestos) Regulations and took effect from May 1, 2014.
Under the WSH (Asbestos) Regulations, occupiers, employers, principals and contractors must comply with the legislative requirements for works involving asbestos.
The employer or principal shall appoint a competent person to conduct a survey to ascertain the presence of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) before carrying out any building works such as demolition, alteration, addition or repair relating to a building that was built before 1 Jan 1991, or any work that involves a specified material that is likely to contain asbestos. Where asbestos or ACM is present in a building due for demolition, the employer or the principal shall ensure that the asbestos or ACM is removed before demolition work starts.
The occupier of a workplace shall ensure that all asbestos-removal work carried out at the workplace is undertaken by an approved asbestos-removal contractor (AARC) licensed by MOM. The AARC shall appoint a competent person to prepare an asbestos-removal plan of work and supervise the asbestos-removal work. The AARC is required to notify MOM 7 calendar days prior to the commencement of asbestos-removal work as specified under the WSH (Asbestos) Regulations.
Employers, principals and contractors must take all reasonably practicable precautions when carrying out work involving asbestos. These include implementing training programme for persons carrying out work involving asbestos; providing personal protective equipment (PPE); taking measures to minimise the release of asbestos into the air arising from the work involving asbestos; and preventing the spread of asbestos beyond the asbestos work area.
The disposal of asbestos waste shall only be carried out by NEA approved asbestos disposal contractors.
IOM advise property consultants, commercial property owners and public agencies on safe management of asbestos containing materials and offer independent advice, assessment and measurement during the refurbishment or demolition of buildings that are known to contain such materials.