Water blasting asbestos draws SafeWork rebuke

Wednesday, 31 May, 2017

Water blasting asbestos draws SafeWork rebuke

High-pressure water blasters have been used by tradespeople to clean asbestos roofs, prompting a warning to be issued by SafeWork NSW.

Two properties had to be vacated on Sydney’s northern beaches, after asbestos debris was spread to neighbouring houses by a water blaster.

In addition, an incident occurred at a commercial property on the northern beaches, where a garden hose was used to clean an asbestos roof. This led to loss of business for the tenants. A commercial complex on the Central Coast is also currently being investigated by SafeWork NSW.

The executive director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy, said it was against the law to use high-pressure water spray and compressed air to clean asbestos roofs and heavy penalties applied.

“In NSW, there are legal requirements regarding asbestos management, its removal and disposal,” Dunphy said.

“If left undisturbed, asbestos materials in good, stable condition are unlikely to release dangerous fibres and pose a health risk.

“However, if asbestos is disturbed during renovations or maintenance, your health and the health of your family and neighbours could be at risk from inhaling airborne fibres.

“If you must work with material that may contain asbestos or remove asbestos, protect yourself and your family by following the legal and safety requirements for the management of asbestos.

“Never use high-pressure water blasters or compressed air to clean asbestos roofs and never walk or work on them as they can be brittle and you can easily fall through and injure yourself.”

Significant penalties apply, with fines ranging from $3600 for individuals and $18,000 for body corporates.

“It is completely unacceptable to risk people’s health and SafeWork NSW will take strong action against those who are caught,”  Dunphy said.

SafeWork NSW recommends property owners only use qualified asbestos removalists licensed by SafeWork to ensure asbestos is safely and properly removed.

A list of licensed asbestos removalists can be found at www.safework.nsw.gov.au.

Image credit: ©Lucaz80/Dollar Photo Club

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