05:43 pm, Thursday 11 April, 2013
Photo: SafetyCulture Library
The Transport Workers’ Union is demanding for all yards of a waste disposal company to be audited and for council contracts to be immediately reviewed after the company’s site in Toowoomba tested positive for illegal handling of asbestos.
An investigation conducted by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland confirmed the positive test result. Because of the discovery, TWU Union Secretary Peter Biagini now questions the safety from asbestos of the company’s other yards.
“This company, with the backing of our tax payer money through their Local and State Government contracts, is playing with people’s lives – they have been found to illegally handle asbestos, exposing workers to the deadly substance,” said Mr Biagini.
“It is such a known and dangerous substance that not only affects the person handling it, but what about when that person goes home and washes their clothes in the family washing machine, exposing the entire family?”
Mr Biagini also highlighted the fact that Gowrie Creek runs through the company’s yard in Toowoomba and makes its way into the Condamine River, where Dalby gets its drinking water.
“Sadly, even today, unborn babies will die from asbestos related illnesses,” he said.
“The Commonwealth Government knows how dangerous asbestos is, and have announced a new asbestos safety and eradication agency to start from July this year.”
“But unfortunately, until that starts, this issues lies within the State Government’s jurisdiction.”
Following the results, TWU wrote to the company’s manager, to the Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie and to councils who have contracts with the company to discuss the situation.
The union is planning to meet with workers to discuss about their safety from asbestos. The Chronicle reported that TWU will hold a community meeting on April 23 with legal and asbestos experts.
“Last week Minister Shorten nailed just how bad this substance is,” said Mr Biagini.
“Each year 650 Australians are diagnosed with mesothelioma, the worst of the asbestos related diseases.”
“Sadly, as Minister Shorten said, those that have been exposed to asbestos, in whatever form there is nothing that can be done to turn back time and protect them from asbestos exposure,” he said.