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Date PostedMay 21, 2015

Western Australians Contracting Deadly Asbestos Diseases at Alarming Rates

One of the greatest concerns for people in the construction sector, especially those involved with renovation and demolition of older buildings, is the risk of contracting a deadly asbestos induced disease.

Despite all that has been done to raise awareness around the risk of asbestos, a report recently revealed that more and more people in Western Australia were being diagnosed with mesothelioma – the incurable lung disease caused by Asbestos exposure.

According to a report on WA Today, people in WA are being diagnosed with Mesothelioma at a much faster rate than those in other parts of the nation. Perhaps what is even more alarming is that occupational asbestos exposure is the contributing factor towards the majority of Mesothelioma cases, as research has proven.

In an article on SafetyCulture.com.au, the report on WA Today was quoted which claimed that in 2013, 95 people in WA were among the 575 people who were discovered to have contracted Mesothelioma because of exposure to asbestos fibres.

Another concerning factor in these exposures is that twenty percent of those who contracted the disease were below the age of 65, this is contrary to our assumption that asbestos exposure is a thing of the past and that old people are the only ones suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases. We often think that because asbestos usage in Oz has been banned since the 80s we are safe from exposure, unfortunately this is not the case.

Within the building industry in particular, we need to be aware of asbestos and the dangers of exposure to these deadly fibres.

The problem in WA seems to be even more pronounced than elsewhere in the nation. According to the report, WA had a diagnosis rate of 3.9 people per capita (100,000 people) compared to Victoria and NSW which recorded 1.8 people per capita.

The post on SafetyCulture.com.au quoted Unions WA secretary Meredith Hammat,

“The research has shown that occupational asbestos exposure was the likely cause of mesothelioma for nearly 61 per cent of 350 sufferers profiled since 2010,” she told WA Today.

“As the recent incident on Rottnest Island highlights, we have an abundance of asbestos used in schools and homes throughout Western Australia.

“The deadly risk of this being unleashed by renovations or accidents puts lives at risk.

“Asbestos was mined in Western Australia for over 20 years, with much of the product going into West Australian houses and buildings.”

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/09/wa-recorded-highest-number-asbestos-related-disease-cases/#.VBybavmSyRw

The revelation that Western Australians seem to be most at risk to asbestos related diseases comes at a time when the hazardous material was also found near Rottnest Island villas.

Although authorities did admit that the substance was of very low risk, the Australian Medical Society did not share the government’s sentiments and insisted that the material be removed from the island’s accommodation

Builders in Western Australia, as well as around the country need to be aware of the risks they face when working on older structures particularly those built in the seventies when the use of asbestos was most prevalent in building materials.

Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning and web strategy firm based in George St Brisbane. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

Posted in Blog, White Card News