10:32 pm, Monday 4 November, 2013
Photo: SafetyCulture Library
In celebration of Australia’s first Asbestos Awareness Month this November, WorkSafe WA issued a reminder on the hazards of asbestos to workers and the community.
“Unfortunately we have the sad legacy of Wittenoom to remind us of the potential hazards of asbestos, but this has served to give us a strong commitment to the future safety and health of all Western Australians,” said WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch.
“Strict licensing requirements in WA ensure that only workers with the proper skills and knowledge can remove asbestos, but we would also like to remind home renovators and home owners doing DIY repairs or maintenance that precautions need to be taken.
“Asbestos products were used in almost every brick, weatherboard, fibro or clad home built or renovated before 1987, so unless your home was built after 1987, the wisest course of action is to assume that asbestos is present and take precautions.
“There is still a large amount of asbestos in WA and we need to ensure that anyone who may come in contact with it is aware of the potential for serious health effects.”
The Asbestos Awareness Month campaign aims to educate all Australians on the dangers of asbestos as well as encourage people to seek information on how to they can identify asbestos and manage it.
A recent survey found that asbestos exposure was common during home renovations. Sixty percent of DIY renovators have reported exposure. The motto for the month is “Don’t play renovation roulette!”.
Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related diseases in the world.
“A National Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos has been in existence for many years, so there has long been a requirement for working safely with asbestos,” said Mr McCulloch.
“Asbestos products do not pose a risk to health if they are left undistributed in buildings, but there is a serious risk of exposure to fibres if asbestos-containing materials are disturbed or removed unless basic safety precautions are followed.
“It is vitally important that people who actually work with asbestos and people who undertake DIY renovations, maintenance or repairs take every possible precaution when asbestos is or may be present.”