In Sydney last month (August 2015) inner west residents blocked WestConnex Delivery Authority trucks from entering the authority’s Alexandria dump site, after claiming to have witnessed unsafe asbestos removal practices.

“For days in high winds we’ve watched WestConnex trucks leaving the asbestos dump full of this killer product, and trucks are only half covered,” WestConnex Action Group spokesperson Janet Dandy-Ward said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the group told AlertForce the protest saw the site shut down for a day, with cost implications for the authority.

WestConnex defends actions
In response, WestConnex referred AlertForce to a general statement claiming the authority fully complied with legislative requirements governing safe removal of asbestos.

Residents had staged an early morning blockade at the Alexandria Landfill, which has been acquired by WestConnex.

Work to remove asbestos at the site is part of WestConnex’s planned delivery of new undergrounds M4 toll road. The action group claimed work at the dump site had not obtained the necessary clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Duty-of-care obligations
While the merits of the claims and counter claims remained unclear when this article was compiled, the cost implications of the blocking of work on the site show the downside for employers of any perceived failure to follow safe removal procedures.

Until recently asbestos training of significant quality has not been readily available to those pursuing a career in asbestos management and removal.

However, the current duty of care principle under the Work Health and Safety Act requires people in the workplace be aware of the consequences of their actions. These people include employers, employees, manufacturers, and suppliers.

A number of registered training organisations, including AlertForce, now provide training both for asbestos removal – and more general training in recognition of asbestos in the workplace.

After completing AlertForce asbestos “awareness” training, for example, workers are able to recognise and avoid harmful and dangerous situations.

Who needs asbestos training?
With asbestos present in many Australian buildings, it is important for a wide range of individuals to undertake some form of asbestos awareness course.

From construction workers to plumbers, any person who may come into contact with asbestos products can benefit from training.

Asbestos removal is also a prominent industry in Australia, with WHS standards requiring individuals in this field to hold official qualifications.

When materials containing asbestos are present, or even suspected in the workplace, only personnel with nationally recognised training are qualified to safely manage or remove it.

With strict regulations and requirements regarding training and qualifications, those hoping to enter a career in asbestos removal need to ensure they have the correct competencies in place. To comply with WHS standards and laws, the level of asbestos removal training accesses will dictate how you can participate in this vital and growing industry.

Alternatively, the asbestos awareness course is a program designed for individuals who may be required to work in locations potentially contaminated with asbestos, but will have no direct, intentional contact with the material; this includes builders, renovators and other related occupations.

Any employer who believes their workforce could benefit from the ability to identify asbestos should provide workers with asbestos awareness training. This will ensure that individuals can identify and respond to potential asbestos in the workplace.

What asbestos courses are offered by AlertForce?

AlertForce offers a range of vital asbestos assessment and awareness training programs, designed to meet the requirements of your industry and occupation. Whether you’re considering a career in asbestos removal, or simply want to formalise your skills and knowledge, AlertForce has an asbestos awareness and removal course to suit.

This introductory asbestos awareness training program can be completed online and gives individuals a fast and effective method for boosting their workplace health and safety.

By increasing your knowledge and awareness of asbestos products, you should be able to identify and address asbestos in the workplace. However, as asbestos awareness program does not give individuals the qualifications needed to remove asbestos.

Before asbestos removal can be completed, a competent person must conduct an assessment of the area and the process. To ensure removal procedures have the best possible chance of success without exposure, individuals working in this role need to have completed asbestos assessment training.

The nationally recognised qualification offered by AlertForce is Conduct Asbestos Assessment Associated with Removal CPCCBC5014A
For a career in asbestos management and removal, individuals need to undertake the relevant training. Depending on the level accessed, students will be able to work on relevant asbestos removal tasks.

The asbestos removal courses provided by AlertForce include Remove Non-Friable Asbestos (Class B) CPCCDE3014A (prerequisite for supervise asbestos removal); Remove Friable Asbestos (Class A) CPCCDE3015A; and Supervise asbestos removal CPCCBC4051A.

For more details about AlertForce’s asbestos awareness training, assessment and removal courses, go to http://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/asbestos-awareness/