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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.

Following significant increases in work injuries footwear and clothing retailers are under scrutiny in Western Australia.

During 2011–12 lost time injuries at footwear retailers doubled compared to those in 2009–10, WorkSafe Director Joe Attard said in a media statement.

Two-thirds of these injuries were serious (resulting in five days or more off work).

Injuries at clothing retailers also increased significantly, with a 33 per cent rise in lost time injuries in 2011–12, Attard said.

Three-quarters of these injuries were serious or severe (resulting in 60 days or more off work).

Attard said WHS inspectors are targeting manual tasks, slips, trips and falls and falls from heights in both retail sectors during 2013–14.

They are also scrutinising security measures for cash handling and hold-ups, workplace facilities, personal protective equipment, emergency procedures, new and young workers, electricity and hazardous substances/chemicals.

Meanwhile, automotive repairers are also under scrutiny.

Inspectors are targeting hazardous substances, electricity, manual tasks, training of new and young workers, machinery guarding and slips, trips and falls.

Spray booth safety, personal protective equipment, emergency procedures, mobile plant, health surveillance and pressure vessels are also a focus.

For more details, visit the WorkSafe inspection program regarding retailing and automotive repairs.

Published on 15 August 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.

A new workplace road safety program will be launched in the second part of this year.

The National Road Transport Commission (NTC) has been working with the business sector over the past two years to develop the National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP).

“Work-related road crashes account for almost half of all occupational fatalities in Australia and 15 per cent of the national road toll,” says NTC Acting Chief Executive George Konstandakos in a media statement.

“As almost half of the new vehicles sold in Australia each year are purchased by businesses, there is an opportunity for them to have a significant impact on road safety.”

The NRSPP is based on the ‘Safe System’, which involves safe road users, safe vehicles, safe speeds and safe roads.

The fundamental objectives are to make the road transport system more forgiving of human error and to minimise unsafe road user behaviour, says the NRSPP final strategy document.

The business sector can influence road safety through direct influence on what happens ‘on the ground’, the supply chain, employment, testing research, and feedback to the government and researchers, the document adds.

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