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Any individual or business in NSW that appoints an unlicensed asbestos removalist will now face an on-the-spot fine.

The new laws came into effect on 13 February under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.

They cover Class A asbestos removal licences for the removal of friable asbestos and Class B licences for the removal of bonded asbestos.

Individuals face fines of $720, while businesses face fines of $3600.

“Asbestos can be found in any property built or renovated before 1987, and one in three Australian homes is believed to contain asbestos,” said Peter Dunphy, executive director of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division, in a media release.

To find a licenced asbestos removalist, visit Asbestos Demolition Licence Holders

For more details, visit WorkCover NSW

Published on 26 February 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin

The NSW Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities (HACA) has been testing homes and commissioning an independent investigation in an effort to uncover the extent of the Mr Fluffy loose-fill asbestos risks in NSW.

WorkCover NSW, which chairs HACA, has been conducting the tests. As of 27 November, 285 homes have been tested and all have returned negative results to loose-fill asbestos, according to a WorkCover NSW media statement. The testing is ongoing.

NSW HACA has also commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to investigate the extent of the problem.

“The Chief Health Officer has considered the [recent] ACT Taskforce Report [into Mr Fluffy contamination in that jurisdiction] and confirmed the need to wait for the results of the current NSW investigation,” WorkCover NSW said.

Residents whose homes were built before 1980 can contact WorkCover to see if they are eligible for free testing; phone 13 10 50.

For more details visit WorkCover NSW

Published on 4 December 2014 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin

The Asbestos Eradication Agency may be in this year’s federal budget but there’s no telling for how long it will stay.

As reported in an earlier e-bulletin, the agency looked like it had escaped the cull recommended in the Commission of Audit when it turned up as a line item in the budget.

However, a report authored by the federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has surfaced referring to the agency as “window dressing”, and saying that when it was created in 2013 its function was already “being carried out as a separately-branded office within the then Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations”.

In parliament last week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott disputed Opposition claims that he was allowing the agency to be axed. “It has not been axed: it is as simple as that—it has not been axed,” Abbott said.

However, as the Refugee Council of Australia discovered last week, being a line item in the budget doesn’t mean that funding will flow as expected.

For more details, visit the report.

Published on 5 June 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Mesothelioma has claimed hundreds more lives, according to the latest Asbestos-Related Disease Indicators report.

Released this week the report reveals 606 deaths from mesothelioma were registered in 2011.

The number of deaths recorded each year increased between 1997 and 2010, peaking at 634. However, since then the numbers have fallen, the report said.

Most of deaths (83 per cent) were males.

Some 639 new cases of mesothelioma were reported in 2011, while 619 were reported in 2012. However, the report notes that the 2012 numbers are likely to increase because some cases may not have been reported yet.

An average of 259 claims for mesothelioma per year have been compensated between 2002 and 2011, the report added.

For more detail, visit the report.

Published on 8 May 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Asbestos risks are on the increase as residential demolitions ramp up in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the ongoing post-earthquake rebuilding effort.

Christchurch has been on a long road to recovery following the devastating earthquake that hit the city in 2011.

WorkSafe New Zealand says the residential demolitions are “set to increase between now and December”.

The removal of asbestos was of particular concern, WorkSafe’s Canterbury Rebuild Health and Safety Programme Director, Kathryn Heiler, said in a media statement.

“We are still seeing far too many instances where asbestos is either not being identified accurately or not being safely removed and disposed of prior to demolition. This is simply not acceptable,” Heiler said.

Safety inspectors are targeting residential sites to help keep the risks at bay. Work would stop and enforcement action taken if inspectors uncovered unsafe work practices and breaches of the NZ Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, Heiler said.

Use of plant and working at height were also a concern, she added.

For more detail, visit the demolition risks.

Published on 23 April 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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