If builders will not do the right thing on their own, they will soon have the incentive of financial loss to motivate them into doing so. The ACT’s work sites could soon be on the receiving end of spot fines if they do not dispose of asbestos appropriately, as long as ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Mark McCabe gets his way.
The Work Safety Commissioner will be seeking the approval of the ACT government to issue fines of $5000 on the spot for any builders who are found disposing of asbestos incorrectly.
This is because he believes that too many members of the industry are risking the health and safety of workers and the public by disposing of asbestos incorrectly.
Instances of builders working on refurbishment and renovation who discover asbestos is common but how builders respond to this find is what counts. Builders must remember that asbestos was commonly used in building materials in the past because they were cheaper and stronger. But it has been banned in Australia since the 80s, however during renovation work builders may come across these old building products and may even disturb the asbestos fibres, endangering workers and anyone close enough to inhale them.
Anyone involved in renovation or demolition work, both construction workers and private individuals need to be aware of those building materials that are particular risky, including insulation, fireproofing materials, cement and wallboard materials, floor tiles and roofing materials. Home builders in particular should be aware of the possible presence of asbestos. According to Master Builders Australia around one third of all the homes in Oz contains asbestos and poses a potential health risk if they are not managed with extreme caution.
Read this post on SafetyCulture.com.au that explains Mr McCabe’s call to implement spot fines:
He said that too many builders are risking the health of workers and the public by investing the time and money necessary to safely remove asbestos.
Mr McCabe lifted an prohibition notice on a worksite in Griffith after work was stopped there last week following the discovery by the ACT Planning and Land Authority of bonded asbestos at the site when they checked on electrical issues.
A house was being demolished and the builder that was questioned said that he did not know that the building contained asbestos.
When ACT WorkSafe inspectors inspected the site they confirmed that there was contamination at the site and work was ordered to immediately stop. A licensed assessor and removalist were called to de-contaminate the site.
Mr McCabe said that this was common that a segment of builders in the ACT disregarded the law rather than ensure that asbestos is safely removed.
He said that this practice is happening far too often, which is why the option of enforcement is being looked at in the form of substantial on the spot fines as a “financial disincentive” to the builders that are not following the regulations.