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Company Receives $20,000 Fine For Removing Asbestos Without Licence

17 January 2021

In May 2018, WorkSafe Victoria attended a work site and observed the demolition of a bungalow by Fivestar Demolition and Render Pty Ltd. It was confirmed by an independent occupational hygienist that the bungalow contained asbestos and that the work was not undertaken by licenced asbestos removalists. This was allegedly known by the company director, who had told the workers to proceed with the demolition to get the job done faster.

The company was convicted, fined $20,000, and ordered to pay costs of $4,449 for failing to provide or maintain a workplace that was safe and without risks to health, and failing to ensure that people other than employees were not exposed to risks to health.

Decades of research have proven that asbestos is an extremely hazardous material, and exposure can cause cancer and other serious diseases. Employers are required to provide a safe and healthy workplace and must also comply with current laws relating to asbestos removal. Employers can be be found to be responsible for their workers and other individuals being exposed to asbestos through cutting corners, negligence, lack of awareness, and failing to implement safety measures and proper controls.

 

Points to remember about removing asbestos in the workplace:

  • Domestic premises become workplaces when a person or company has been engaged to carry out work.
  • Before demolition or refurbishment commence at a workplace, the person who manages workplace must review the asbestos register and revise the register if not adequate to proposed work. They must also inform others who might be impacted with this work such as neighbours or adjacent tenancies.
  • If you are not sure of asbestos present within your workplace then you need to organise an Asbestos Inspection/Audit.
  • A person who manages or controls a workplace must identify asbestos under their management that is likely to be disturbed by process of demolition and ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the asbestos is removed before the demolition work is commenced.
  • Asbestos removal work must be performed by a licenced asbestos removalist and/or their employees who are appropriately trained, certified, and instructed to perform removal work safely including it’s appropriate and safe disposal.
  • Asbestos removal work must comply with strict safety requirements. Some of these are the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and equipment, decontamination facilities, waste containment and disposal procedures, the use of signs and barricades, elimination if airborne fibres, and the preparation of an asbestos control plan.

 

The importance of Asbestos Awareness

Education plays a crucial role in the prevention of workers exposure to asbestos in construction. Even before site works commence, making sure that all workers have completed appropriate asbestos awareness training is key. There is a duty of care for all employers to ensure workers are provided information, training and instruction for the tasks they undertake. This must include the nature of the risks and control measures associated with the tasks.

In addition, Reg 455 – Duty to train workers about asbestos in the harmonised WHS regulations states that a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure all workers that may be involved in asbestos removal or, asbestos related works are trained in the identification, safe handling and control measures associated with asbestos and ACM.

 

Online Asbestos Awareness Training

Greencap offers its own proprietary online asbestos training course, designed as a cost-effective introduction to asbestos in line with the WHS /OHS Acts across Australia.

 

Learn in depth about asbestos labelling and signage requirements and more in Greencap's Online Asbestos Awareness Training course