On 21 September 2013, the defendant, a glazier, was subcontracted to remove existing windows at a residential premises and install new aluminum windows in their place. An angle grinder was used by the defendant to cut external fibre cement sheeting to remove the existing windows. Cutting the fibre cement in this fashion caused a layer of dust to be deposited on surfaces throughout the interior of the house and in the yard outside. Testing of the dust confirmed asbestos contamination.
The angle grinder was not enclosed in any way or designed or used in a way to capture or suppress airborne asbestos.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Mackay Magistrates Court on 9 April 2015 to breaching s.446(3) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, having used a power tool on asbestos containing material without dust suppression or capture control and was sentenced.
Magistrate Damien Dwyer fined the defendant $750 and ordered professional and court costs totaling $583.50. He also made a training order that the defendant undertake an asbestos awareness course conducted by the Queensland Master Builders Association on or by 31 December 2015. No conviction was recorded.
In deciding penalty, Magistrate Dwyer took into account the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, they cooperated with the investigation and entered an early plea of guilty.
Considerations for prevention
(Commentary under this heading is not part of the Court's decision)
When working in the construction industry where there is exposure to risks from asbestos, duty holders should consider:
- the likely presence of asbestos in sheeting materials in buildings constructed prior to 1990
- not disturbing the asbestos in sheeting materials
- ensuring removal of asbestos of greater than 10 square metres is only completed by a licensed removalist
- if it is absolutely necessary to disturb ACM, the use of hand tools together with the suppression or control of airborne asbestos
- if it is absolutely necessary to disturb asbestos using power tools, the fitting of dust suppression or control devices which are commercially available.
Visit the WorkSafe.qld.gov.au website for information on:
- Date of offence:
- Mackay Magistrates Court
- Mr Damien Dwyer
- s.446(3) Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
- Decision date:
- Fined $750 plus Training Order
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: