New asbestos safety laws in NSW

Wednesday, 04 July, 2007

New laws came into effect on 1 July 2007 in NSW, governing asbestos removal to improve safety in homes and workplaces.

Industrial Relations Minister, John Della Bosca said anyone removing or demolishing 50 m² of bonded asbestos must now hold a WorkCover licence: "NSW is strengthening its laws to reduce the risks for homeowners and the community generally. A licensed operator was formerly required if a whole house was being removed (200 m²), now a licence is required if more than a garage is being removed (50 m²). The will be further reduced to 10 m² from 1 January 2008. This is part of a phased program to lift safety standards, while giving industry time to adjust."

Della Bosca said the changes mean that some people who weren't previously required to hold an asbestos removal licence will now have to.

"Licensed asbestos removal contractors know the correct procedures to manage the risks of working with bonded asbestos to ensure no one is exposed to the serious health conditions associated with asbestos.

"Studies have shown that bonded asbestos in a sound condition and left undisturbed does not pose a significant health risk. Risks arise when people are unaware of the hazards when removing asbestos, particularly when dust or fibres are released. Anyone who has any doubts about their ability to safely remove asbestos should employ a licensed asbestos removalist, regardless of the quantity involved.

"WorkCover NSW specialists have conducted free seminars around the state to explain the changes and other asbestos removal-related matters. Improving workplace safety has helped the Iemma government reduce WorkCover premiums by 25%, saving NSW businesses $675 million each year.

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