NSCA Foundation

Asbestos practices scrutiny to continue, Queensland vows

Tuesday, 31 March, 2020

Asbestos practices scrutiny to continue, Queensland vows

Queensland builders working unsafely with asbestos and outside relevant laws will continue to face strong consequences, according to the state government. In its statement, the government vowed “to continue to raise awareness around asbestos safety”. In 2018, 699 people died of mesothelioma and more than 700 new cases of the disease have been reported to the Australian Mesothelioma Registry with diagnosis dates in 2017 alone, the Queensland Government said.

“There is no cure for mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and other horrible conditions that can be contracted from exposure to asbestos,” Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said. “Ignoring asbestos laws and putting people at risk can result in stiff penalties, including on-the-spot fines, with clean-up costs exceeding $100,000,” Grace said. “Over the past two years, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland [WHSQ] has conducted 47 investigations into high-risk asbestos activities. In the past 18 months alone, WHSQ has cancelled five asbestos removal licences and suspended four others over unsafe and incompetent asbestos removal.”

A recent Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) survey found that 66% of the state’s 11,000 owner builders will have to remove asbestos when renovating their homes and owner builders could easily underestimate the risks, the government said. Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said anyone performing work on older buildings should get expert advice before dealing with asbestos, with do-it-yourself home renovations being a high-risk area.

“A QBCC survey found that 72% of owner builders had done some sort of renovation work to a home built between 1940 and 1990, with 81% potentially having been exposed to risk had asbestos been present,” de Brenni said. “It’s very important that anyone either performing or arranging their own renovations understand the very real danger of diseases caused by the handling of asbestos.

“Asbestos is a horrendous building product that can be found in old switchboards, external and internal cladding, vent pipes, vinyl and carpet underlay, behind wall tiles as well as in fencing, sheds and splashbacks in wet areas,” de Brenni said. “In fact, there is a whole range of other unexpected places around older homes that asbestos could be lurking, and the assumption should be that it is in fact present in buildings that age. It’s on all of us to reduce needless exposure to harmful products, and making sure you use an appropriately licensed removalist is the first step.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Ecology

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