The Palaszczuk Government has vowed to continue to raise awareness around asbestos safety.
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said Asbestos Awareness Week (24 November – 30 November) was a chance to highlight the risks of working with asbestos.
“As it’s Asbestos Awareness Week it’s timely to reinforce the importance of safety, especially for people cleaning up from the recent bushfires,” she said.
“There is no cure for mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and other horrible conditions that can be contracted from exposure to asbestos.
“So we need to warn everyone about the very real dangers – starting with students and apprentices, right through to experienced tradies and foremen.”
More than 700 new cases of mesothelioma were reported to the Australian Mesothelioma Registry with a diagnosis date in 2017 – almost two a day. In 2018, 699 people died of mesothelioma.
Ms Grace said the Government was determined to continue to call out builders who were doing the wrong thing.
“Ignoring asbestos laws and putting people at risk can result in stiff penalties, including on-the-spot fines, with clean-up costs exceeding $100,000,” she said.
“Over the past two years, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland had conducted 47 investigations into high-risk asbestos activities.
“In the past 18 months alone, WHSQ has cancelled five asbestos removal licences and suspended four others over unsafe and incompetent asbestos removal.”
A recent Queensland Building and Construction Commission survey found that a staggering 66 per cent of the state’s 11,000 owner builders will have to remove asbestos when renovating their homes, and owner builders could easily underestimate the risks.
Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said that anyone performing work on older buildings should get expert advice before dealing with asbestos, with DIY home renovations a high risk area.
“A QBCC survey found that 72 per cent of owner-builders had done some sort of renovation work to a home built between 1940 and 1990, with 81 per cent potentially having been exposed to risk had asbestos been present.
“It’s very important that anyone either performing or arranging their own renovations understand the very real danger of diseases caused by the handling of asbestos.
“Asbestos is a horrendous building product that can be found in old switchboards, external and internal cladding, vent pipes, vinyl and carpet underlay, behind wall tiles as well as in fencing, sheds and splashbacks in wet areas,” he said.
“In fact, there is a whole range of other unexpected places around older homes that asbestos could be lurking, and the assumption should be that it is in fact present in buildings that age.”
“It’s on all of us to reduce needless exposure to harmful products and making sure you use an appropriately licenced removalist is the first step.”
Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations
The Honourable Grace Grace
Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology and Minister for Sport
The Honourable Mick de Brenni