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Licensed removalists must clean up fire-damaged asbestos in the wake of ongoing and recent bushfires.

Despite WorkCover NSW waiving the five-day asbestos removal notification timeframe to allow for the immediate clean-up of fire-damaged asbestos, the need to use licensed operators remains.

Also, the waiver only applies to fire-damaged properties, and removalists still need to notify WorkCover of the material to be removed.

Only those holding a Class A asbestos removal licence are permitted to remove the fire damaged material.

“Residents are being urged to seek out information on the potential risks of being exposed to asbestos and how to safely manage asbestos when cleaning up after the fire,” said WorkCover NSW Work Health and Safety Division General Manager John Watson in a media statement.

“As firefighters and other emergency services workers assess the damage, and residents begin to repair or rebuild, we want to make people aware of the danger of asbestos.”

For more details, contact WorkCover NSW.

Published on 24 October 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Over 600 newly diagnosed mesothelioma cases have been notified for 2012, says the latest data.

The numbers were published earlier this week in the Australian Mesothelioma Registry’s (AMR) second annual report.

As at 30 June, the AMR had received 619 notifications of people being newly diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2012.

Of these people, 511 were men and 108 were women, and 79.6 per cent were over the age of 65 at the time of the diagnosis.

This is fewer than the 639 new diagnoses notified in 2011, which included the 612 recorded in the first annual report and an additional 27 that were notified after the annual report was published.

However, like the previous year, it is likely that notifications for 2012 will continue to come in even though the report has been published, the AMR says.

For more details, visit the mesothelioma report.

Published on 26 September 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

A national asbestos exposure register has been created in the wake of the National Broadband Network (NBN) asbestos scare.

As previously reported, Telstra is digging up thousands of cable pits in preparation for the rollout of the NBN for the federal government. Many of these pits are lined with asbestos.

Two weeks ago, some of this work was suspended when contractors were found to be smashing pits without taking appropriate precautions.

A new asbestos exposure register has been set up as part of the response to the problem.

Any member of the community who thinks they have been exposed to asbestos-containing materials in any context, not just through Telstra pits and the NBN, can register their exposure details.

The register captures the identification details of the person exposed to the asbestos, details of the suspected asbestos exposure, witness details, and whether the person has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.

The register is managed by the Office of Asbestos Safety and Professor Chris Baggoley, chief medical officer of the Department of Health and Ageing.

Meanwhile, The federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten says in a media statement that work won’t recommence in certain Telstra pits until Telstra and NBN employees and contractors are trained in the safe removal and handling of asbestos from the pits.

However, work will continue in pits that do not contain asbestos.

For more details, visit the register and the minister.


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