Deadly asbestos was used in Australian construction and building materials until 1985. To prevent the spread of asbestos damage, today’s architects and builders require qualified experts who can safely manage and control asbestos-related risks during construction.

Oskar Lamperts, NEO Consulting’s Environmental Consultant and Licensed Asbestos Assessor (LAA), is passionate about protecting people and environments from this deadly pollutant. We speak with Oskar about his LAA credential, his experience with asbestos jobs, including the 2020 Victoria bushfires, and what you should expect from an LAA.

Keep asbestos under control. Speak to our licensed environmental team today.


Q&A with Oskar Lamperts, Licensed Asbestos Assessor


Q: Can you tell me what motivated you to become a Licensed Asbestos Assessor (LAA)?

Oskar: There are a lot of asbestos-contaminated sites in Australia, particularly in Sydney. Many older buildings made of asbestos have been demolished and buried on-site. I became a Licensed Asbestos Assessor to be able to inspect these sites and recommend how to fix them, especially when the asbestos is friable, meaning it’s been damaged by fire, weather or ageing and poses a safety concern. An LAA is the gold standard.


Q: What is a Licensed Asbestos Assessor and why is it important for New South Wales?

Oskar: An LAA, or Licensed Asbestos Assessor, is someone who has consistently worked with asbestos for a significant period of time and is qualified to oversee sites with friable asbestos – that’s the dangerous kind that causes asbestosis. This is important because only someone with an LAA, also known as a Class A asbestos removal licence, can sign off on these sites and ensure proper handling and removal.


Q: What do you need to show or do to become an LAA?

Oskar: You must provide extensive evidence of working with asbestos over a multi-year period. I submitted various reports where I’d been the ‘competent person’ on asbestos related jobs, supporting the LAA in charge. I also had a letter of reference from an experienced LAA supporting my application. It’s all about proving your experience and competence.


Q: Are there different regulations or standards you now have to meet?

Oskar: Yes, I have to renew the licence every five years, which involves submitting work related evidence. There’s also penalties for unethical behaviour, like faking lab results, that can be severe like hefty fines and loss of licence.


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Q: Can you explain the health risks of asbestos?

Oskar: The biggest health risk is asbestosis, a lung disease caused by inhaling friable asbestos fibres. These fibres never leave your lungs and even a small amount can cause serious health issues, including lung cancer. It’s a threat to anyone exposed to it. Most people know that asbestos is found in roofing and wall sheeting but it was also used in flooring and most parts of the house. It’s much more common than people think. 


Q: Has your credential come in handy yet?

Oskar: Yes, it has. For example, we conducted a Hazardous Materials Survey (HMS) on a site in Penrith where a fire-damaged house built with asbestos materials had been demolished. Despite attempts to clean it up, rain kept revealing more asbestos, showing the importance of thorough inspections.


Q: Can you share a notable project you’ve worked on?

Oskar: After the 2020 bushfires in Victoria, I was part of a team overseeing asbestos removal in heavily contaminated areas. It was a government initiative, and the work was extensive – entire suburbs had been classified as asbestos contaminated. It was rough and really showed the importance of our role in disaster recovery.


Q: Why should builders and architects use an LAA on site?

Oskar: Even a tiny bit of asbestos can stop the whole construction process. LAAs are the only ones qualified to oversee works on sites with friable asbestos. We help you manage asbestos removal, contain the spread and help you meet Council and industry standards. Not using an LAA can lead to criminal offences, so it’s far better to have someone from the outset to conduct inspections and keep you compliant. 


Q: When should builders and architects engage an LAA? 

Oskar: We’re often engaged before or after demolition but definitely before any building starts. The discovery of asbestos after construction begins can cause major delays and additional costs. You’ll also need an LAA to clear the site when the local council requests an environmental report before granting an Occupation Certificate.


Q: How do you stay updated with the latest regulations and best practices?

Oskar: We need to reapply for our licence every few years, submitting work evidence. We also pay close attention to updates from organisations like the NSW EPA and SafeWork, which provide new guidelines and regulations.


Q: What advice would you give to builders and architects regarding asbestos assessment?

Oskar: If there’s any suspicion of asbestos, especially friable asbestos, get in touch with an LAA before starting demolition or renovation. It helps ensure safety and compliance with regulations, preventing delays and additional costs.

Also, consider an environmental consulting partner over an LAA expert. Like the rest of the NEO Consulting team, I have a range of environmental qualifications and experience. Soon I’ll be applying to become a Certified Environmental Practitioner (CEnvP). Credentials like this help us recognise other kinds of environmental issues that could cause future problems for our clients. Constant training means we can give a much more holistic service.


NEO Consulting: your new environmental partner for NSW construction.