Workcover Warns Residents of Asbestos Dangers After Bushfires

18 January 2013


WorkCover NSW is waiving the five-day asbestos removal work notification timeframe to allow immediate clean-up of asbestos debris as the state experiences one of the worst fire seasons in recent years causing damage and destruction to properties, bushland and livestock.

WorkCover NSW Work Health and Safety Division General Manager John Watson said under usual circumstances legislation required a five-day wait period before removing asbestos.

“This five-day timeframe allows for WorkCover to review the adequacy of safety systems and site arrangements,” Mr Watson said.

WorkCover is fast-tracking assessments to ensure fire damaged asbestos can be removed as soon as possible.

“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,” he said.

“NSW has had a particularly severe fire season this year which has damaged or destroyed a large amount of property across the state.”

“As fire-fighters 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.

“We must ensure that all sections of the community are aware of the dangers of asbestos and that asbestos debris is safely managed and the health of the community is protected.

“Residents should be aware that fire affected homes may contain fire damaged asbestos materials which need to be safely removed.”

The following measures are recommended during the clean-up of fire-damaged buildings containing asbestos:

  • Avoid disturbing asbestos materials and keep any asbestos debris wet until it can be safely removed.
  • Be aware of asbestos materials in your surroundings. A person conducting a business or undertaking demolition of residential premises must ensure that all asbestos that this likely to be disturbed by the demolition is identified and safely removed.
  • The Asbestos Awareness website www.asbestosawareness.com.au has information on the types of the asbestos materials commonly found in homes.
  • Use only a qualified asbestos removalist licensed by WorkCover to ensure asbestos is safely and properly removed.
  • Fire damaged asbestos materials can only be cleaned up by holders of a Class A asbestos removal licence.
  • Asbestos removal licence holders can be found in the yellow pages or by contacting WorkCover on 13 10 50.
  • All fire damaged asbestos material to be removed needs to be notified to WorkCover by the removalist.  The 5 day notification timeframe will be waived for premises affected by fire.

“To prevent future exposures to home renovators, the Asbestos Education Committee in partnership with the Asbestos Diseases Research Institute has launched the ‘Don’t play Renovation Roulette!’ campaign targeting home renovators who could come into contact with asbestos if they don’t properly manage asbestos in their homes,” Mr Watson said

“The campaign includes Asbestos Awareness ambassadors Don Burke, Scott Cam, John Jarratt and Scott McGregor as well as the launch of ‘Betty’, a purpose-built model house designed to demonstrate areas in the home where asbestos might be.”

For more information on safely managing asbestos, contact WorkCover on 13 10 50 or visit our website at www.workcover.nsw.gov.au. Visit www.asbestosawareness.com.au for useful information for home renovators.


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