The defendant held duties under s. 446 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 which provides that a person conducting a business or undertaking must not use, or direct or allow a worker to use, either of the following on asbestos or ACM - (a) high-pressure water spray; (b) compressed air.
The defendant was a sole trader who had conducted business for many years. He contracted for a house with a super six type asbestos roof to clean and paint the roof. He asked his apprentice to get on the roof and use a high pressure water blaster. Asbestos contaminated dust or debris (ACD) from this activity scattered across the yard and two neighbouring properties. The ACD contained a lower risk than airborne asbestos as the asbestos was encapsulated in the paint and was cleaned up within a week of the incident. The clean-up cost was in excess of $18,000.
The defendant pleaded guilty in the Maroochydore Magistrates Court on 6 July 2017 to breaching s.446(1) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, having contravened the prohibition on using a high pressure cleaner on asbestos containing material (ACM), and was sentenced.
Magistrate Rodney Madsen fined the defendant $750 and ordered professional and court costs totaling $500. He also imposed a 12 month good behavior bond under the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 with a recognisance in the sum of $1000 to be forfeited if convicted of an offence within this period. No conviction was recorded. In deciding penalty, Magistrate Madsen took into account the defendant had not been prosecuted previously for any work health and safety breach, co-operated 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 and roofing material in buildings constructed prior to 1990
- Not disturbing the asbestos in roofing material
- Ensuring that removal of asbestos of greater than 10 square metres is only completed by a licensed asbestos removalist
- They are prohibited from using high pressure water spray or other powered equipment to clean an asbestos roof
- If the risk of asbestos exposure was higher then a person could be charged with a more serious offence under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 where recently the penalty imposed for a company has been a fine of $100,000.
Risk management involves identifying the hazards, evaluating the consequences and likelihood of harm that may result from the hazard, deciding and implementing control measures to prevent or minimise the level of the risk from the hazard and monitoring the effectiveness of the control measures to ensure they remain working correctly.
When deciding and implementing control measures associated with removing roofs that contain asbestos, obligation holders must comply with WHS Queensland's regulations.
Visit the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland website for information on:
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
- How to safely remove asbestos code of practice 2021 (PDF, 2.22 MB)
- Demolition work code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.66 MB)
- Date of offence:
- Maroochydore Magistrates Court
- Magistrate Rodney Madsen
- s. 446 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
- Decision date:
- $750 with a good behavior bond for a period of 12 months with recognisance of $1000
- Maximum Penalty:
- $3 600
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: