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Date PostedMay 31, 2013

White Card Update: Contractors Beware you do not expose Workers or Clients to Asbestos during Renovations

According to an article on SafetyCulture.com.au an alarming case of asbestos mishandling by a contractor has almost placed a family at risk of an asbestos related illness.

A couple and their 2 small children had to evacuate their home because they feared workers engaged in renovation work on their home had interfered with asbestos, subsequently contaminating the entire house.

This is what happened according to the post on SafetyCulture.com.au:

worksafe-actA couple and their two young children aged 5 and 3 have had to leave their home because of the way the builder renovating their home allegedly mishandled asbestos materials.

WorkSafe ACT will be referring the builder involved to the Director of Public Prosecutions because workers have put the family at risk for illnesses related to asbestos.

The family left their house last month for more than three weeks after builders cut through asbestos sheeting in their bathroom with angle grinders, the entire house was contaminated.

The couple said that a neighbour approached them and said that they thought asbestos was being removed from and placed in front of their house.

They spoke to the builder who denied there were asbestos products so WorkSafe was called. They tested the sheets and confirmed that they were very dangerous.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/builder-renovations-expose-family-to-asbestos/

Previously asbestos was highly valued in the construction industry for its insulating, fireproofing and sound proofing quality, especially because of its cost effectiveness. Unfortunately asbestos also has a dark side which can prove deadly over a number of years especially if the asbestos fibres are released into the air when they are disturbed.

The presence of asbestos on building sites can be problematic because it slows down productivity and endangers the lives of workers but as this incident proves, workers aren’t the only ones placed at risk especially when renovations are occurring while the residents are still living in the house.

The couple and their 2 small children had been living in the house whilst the renovations were underway, which is common practice for most homeowners. Following the incident it was feared that the family may have been exposed to asbestos fibres which may cause illness, they will have to undergo tests annually for asbestos related illnesses.

This family was lucky that their neighbour noticed the asbestos containing material being dumped on their lawn and alerted them or they may have suffered increased exposure and possibly a life threatening asbestos related disease.  The article went on to explain:

The couple with their two children had been living in the house whilst renovations were conducted and toxic substances constantly had to be removed from the kitchen and living areas.

All of the members of the family will need to undergo annual tests for asbestos related illnesses.

Mark McCabe, the WorkSafe ACT Commissioner, said that three prohibition notices, two improvement notices and two infringements had been issued to the company.

He said that if anyone is concerned about work being done in their home they should contact either ACT Planning and Land Authority or WorkSafe and they will investigate.

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/builder-renovations-expose-family-to-asbestos/

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.

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