An independent taskforce organised by the Labor party at the peak of asbestos recent Telstra Asbestos concerns, will reportedly be incorporated into the new Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency.
Taskforce chairman Geoff Fary remarked that there remained “a lot of work” for it to do.
Fary has contacted Employment Minister Eric Abetz to discuss the plan.
He said that despite the changes still to come to NBN , “for the foreseeable future there will be a lot of work for the independent taskforce” as NBN cabling continued to be rolled out.
The asbestos task force was established in June by former workplace relations minister Bill Shorten and former communications minister Stephen Conroy after reports emerged that poor safety measures were being practiced at some of the Telstra’s pits.
Also established was a taskforce for a “hindsight” review,to review all asbestos-related work carried out by project workers.
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Rumours that a community in regional NSW was consistently exposed to deadly asbestos waste because of council safety breaches, have been shot down by Gwydir mayor John Coulton as “unfair and misleading”.
Asbestos Disease Foundation president Barry Robson made a trip to Warialda to investigate allegations that workers had been exposed to asbestos fibres during a water pipe replacement project earlier in the year.
Some report that council management had advised staff to describe broken asbestos sheeting as “general waste” when it was dumped in an effort to avoid higher charges.
Robson has no doubts that staff needed better training, and called on WorkCover and the NSW environmental Protection Authority to look into the matters.
Robson called it “completely unacceptable” that workers and community members in suburban streets were being put at risk.
Coulton stated that he was confident that no staff or community members were put at risk of asbestos exposure. He added that he had “no knowledge” of any safety breaches at the dump site.
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A spokesperson for the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate revealed that a ”small sealed bag allegedly containing asbestos” was smuggled into the directorate’s offices at Dame Pattie Menzies House.
The member of the public reportedly walked in with the bag on August 30, in order to confirm whether the substance was asbestos prior to leaving. Preliminary tests revealed that the substance was indeed asbesgtos.
The spokeswoman said: ”The directorate took immediate steps to ensure that the material was isolated and the area made safe.”
The police was informed and the material was removed immediately.
”Appropriate experts … were immediately contacted including the police … the Environment Protection Authority, and an independent expert to undertake testing and removal of the material. The work areas were given the ‘all clear’ the next day by the independent expert.”
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A heap of dumped asbestos sheeting has been uncovered in the Blackbutt Natural Regrowth area.
Local WIRES volunteer Arlene Hope stated that the deadly building material was discovered in the bush early last week.
“We could not believe someone could be so criminally irresponsible,” Ms Hope said.
“Dumping asbestos carelessly like that poses all sorts of dangers to the public and potentially wildlife.
The culprits responsible are subject to a fine of up to $1-million for the illegal dumping of the hazardous material.
An inspection of the site revealed that the dumping had been done very recently. Those responsible would’ve traveled along the Bucca road so investigations are being conducted.
NSW Forestry, the Coffs Harbour City Council and State Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser has been informed of the incident and inquiries are ongoing.
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The plea emerged as the council currently pursues two homeowners whoit claims have thus far failed to remove asbestos that is exposed on their properties.
The council has been in contact with the Camden property owner since a house fire earlier this year uncovered asbestos. The council subsequently contacted the owner and their insurance company to have it removed.
Mayor Lara Symkowiak said the council’s instructions for the asbestos to be removed have since been ignored.
she did not deny the possibility of the council removing the asbestos and recovering its costs from the homeowner.
“This is an extreme situation and is not council’s preferred method of dealing with the matter,” she said.
“The costs associated with the clean up of asbestos can be high and the responsibility for compliance should rest with the owner of the site.
“Council is awaiting a response from the mortgagee for the supply of specialist reports undertaken as part of the investigations on this site to gauge the extent of works that may be required, should the work not be undertaken in the immediate future.
“Council is committed to ensuring the safety of our community, especially where asbestos is involved.”
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The government-owned postal service said mail delivery to Hornseywood Avenue in Penrith was halted temporarily.
“We made that decision for the safety of our staff and after discussions with the council and WorkCover,” a spokesperson told AAP on Wednesday.
Australia Post said deliveries are will not resume until Telstra finishes their audit on the practices of contractors upgrading pits as part of the NBN rollout.
This comes as work on the NBN was suspended after a Penrith resident contacted WorkCover concerned that asbestos safety procedures weren’t being followed.
The telco hopes it will have the sites cleaned up by Thursday and is asking affected residents to give permission for a clean-up.
Residents have been told they can collect their mail from the Australia Post Nepean Business Hub.
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The Federal Opposition believes the Government is putting Tasmanian national broadband rollout contractors at an avoidable risk of asbestos exposure.
NBN alleges that contractors working on the rollout had not been exposed, but Electrical Trades Union is not convinced.
Unionist Michael Anderson says workers had likely been put at risk, and the federal work safety regulator CommCare has not been lapsing in its duties.
“With a risk as big as asbestos, I thought they would’ve been going to their utmost to fix it,” he said.
ComCare was poised to face senate committee.
Liberal Senator Eric Abetz says it has serious questions to answer.
“We will be asking as to who is responsible,” he said.
But he already has one culprit in mind.
“Political agenda to roll out the NBN as quickly as possible ahead of people’s well-being,” Senator Abetz said.
He paralleled it to the pink batts program during the global financial crisis.
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Refurbishing at the Telstra Building in Deakin, was stopped after WorkSafe ACT and the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate issued stop-work notices to the contractor for breaches connected to the discovery of asbestos on the site.
Construction union representatives inspected the site and cited several concerns with authorities.
The contractor, Business 2 Business Commercial Fitouts (based out of Sydney) shut down the site following the inspection.
Dean Hall, ACT branch secretary of the CFMEU, reported that in addition to the building’s asbestos register being inaccurate,the correct process of an asbestos audit and management plan were not followed by the contractor.
A Telstra spokesman stated that they were ”aware that a contractor working on behalf of Telstra found some asbestos at a vacant part of the Telstra site”.
”The contractor took immediate action to ensure the safety of their employees … [and] is now working with appropriate authorities to ensure the site remains safe for anyone who works there.”
A spokesman for the ESDD said ”The head contractor did not have the appropriate licence, the asbestos removalist is licensed in the ACT. However, there were no approvals in place to undertake the work. None of the work on the site had the relevant approvals.”
It is unclear how long the site with be closed considering the number of approvals required.
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THE Australian Workers Union visited Hobart saying it feared Cement Australia would hide a long-awaited research report into worker asbestos exposure because of legal advice.
“(The report’s) been going through an editorial process for a couple of years now,” Dr Berger said.
“The promise from the executives always was it would be made public.”
However, Dr Berger said he had been informed company management was still keen to release the academia-related study report but its “legal team will not allow it”.
“At the moment they have backed off – I have been told it will not be released,” he said.
Asbestos Free Tasmania chief executive Susan Wallace said she understood some of the data might be presented to Cement Australia workers, adding she was puzzled as to why it had not yet been made public.
“I’m about to write them a letter on that very matter,” Ms Wallace said.
The historical worker study was part of a four-step strategy to deal with worker asbestos exposure at the site.
The plan included ridding the plant of asbestos, health screenings for workers, a Monash University study to compare the health of workers with the general Railton community, and the historical study involving Goliath Cement board minutes, interviews with former workers and asbestos removal research.
A Cement Australia spokeswoman based interstate said the company was making no comment about the study or disclosure.
“I’m not in a position to comment on that particular matter,” she said.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) says work has been halted and 150 workers were told to evacuate the work site.Union state secretary Brian Parker says that documentation indicates that there have been several occasions where asbestos has been discovered on the site.
According to Parker; no action has been taken by the project manager Bovis Lend Lease.Lend Lease spokesman David Hutton ensured that safety was the companies top concern.Hutton claims that small traces of historically buried asbestos have been uncovered throughout the last five years.
Hutton confirmed that the company has always closes and quarantines the site when asbestos is discovered in a small number of excavation locations. The asbestos is then allegedly removed in accordance with WorkCover regulations.
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According to a recent study entitled ‘Global magnitude of reported and unreported mesothelioma’, the number of deaths related to asbestos exposures worldwide has been dramatically underestimated, as some major asbestos-using nations are failing to report any related cancers. (more…)
You might have never heard of asbestos awareness training, but it can save lives. It gives householders and workers a fundamental understanding of the way to recognize its presence, where it is usually located in buildings, and methods to avoid being exposed. Knowing where it is found can help workers avoid being exposed to this deadly mineral. And if it is found an asbestos removal service should be called without delay.
What forms of things contain asbestos fibers?
It is present in fireproofing materials, insulation, cement, building materials, shingles for roofing, ceiling plaster, brake linings, and other types of building materials. Tiny asbestos dust can become airborne (float in the air), especially during the manufacturing of materials with asbestos. These airborne particles can be breathed in, resulting in mesothelioma, cancer, and different asbestos-related medical conditions.
Asbestos awareness training is vital since asbestos is seen in a great number of buildings as well as houses and schools. Within the workplace or home asbestos will mostly be found as sprayed-in insulation above ceilings and on steel beams, in ceiling tiles and floor tiles manufactured previous to 1981, and in insulation around pipes and ducts. So far as floor tiles are concerned the bulk of 9-inch tiles and a few 12-inch tiles will include asbestos if they were produced previous to 1981.
Asbestos training & asbestos courses can be found online.