WorkSafe is reminding business operators that they only have a few days to secure the proper asbestos removal licence.
The licensing change means that starting June 1, businesses removing more than ten square metres of bonded asbestos – including asbestos cement material – in a workplace will need to have completed an approved training course and hold an asbestos licence.
According to WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne, the new requirements of the State’s occupational safety and health laws are meant to ensure that licensees have the appropriate skills and know-how to undertake asbestos removal.
“There is still a large amount of asbestos in WA and we need to make sure that its removal is carried out only by workers who have the proper skills and knowledge to perform the task safely,” Ms Lyhne said.
“A National Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos has been in existence for many years, so there has always been a requirement for working safely with asbestos. These changes aim to improve compliance with the Code.
“Asbestos cement products do not pose a risk to health if they are left undisturbed in buildings. However, there is a serious risk of exposure to asbestos fibres during the disturbance or removal of asbestos-containing materials unless basic safety precautions are followed.
“Concerns have long existed about the potential for serious health effects from exposure to asbestos where these safety precautions are not followed.
“These concerns resulted in the Commission for Occupational Safety and Health recommending stronger controls on the removal of asbestos cement sheeting.
“A large amount of consultation has taken place, with input from industry representatives, unions, organisations and members of the community all being taken into consideration when deciding to implement the changes.
“Unfortunately Western Australians have the sad legacy of Wittenoom to remind them of the potential hazards of asbestos, and these changes are part of the State Government’s commitment to the future safety and health of all Western Australians.
“The obvious advantage of licensing for the removal of asbestos is that it will ensure that only workers who possess the required knowledge, skills and safe systems of work to do the job safely will be able to perform the work.”