The defendant used high pressure water to spray asbestos containing material ('ACM'), namely a roof, in contravention of s.446(1)(a) of the Work Health Safety Regulation 2011.
The defendant was contracted by a painting company to clean the roof of residential premises prior to painting. There were no conversations between the defendant and the contractor regarding the composition of the roof, safe procedures or equipment to use. On 15 September 2016 the defendant accessed the roof and sprayed it with a hydrochloride solution and used a 'whirl-a-way' surface cleaner attached to a high pressure washer to clean the back section of the roof. This resulted in three adjacent residential properties being contaminated with debris.
On 15 January 2018, the defendant pleaded guilty in the Townsville Magistrates Court to breaching s.446(1)(a) of the Work Health Safety Regulation 2011.
Magistrate Luxton fined the defendant $1000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $792.55. He also placed the defendant on a Good Behaviour Bond with a recognisance of $1000. No conviction was recorded.
In deciding penalty Magistrate Luxton acknowledged the extent of damage created by the defendant's actions, the significant costs associated with decontaminating the site and that there was minimal discussion between the defendant and contractor regarding how to manage the risks associated with treating an asbestos roof. The magistrate took into account the defendant's early plea of guilty, co-operation with the Work Health Safety investigation and lack of previous convictions under the Work Health Safety Act 2011.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When working in the roof cleaning industry where there is exposure to risks from resulting ACM contamination, duty holders should apply a risk management approach to ensure the selection of suitable control measures.
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 cleaning roofs that contain asbestos, obligation holders must utilise cleaning methods that do not release asbestos fibres into the atmosphere and environment.
Visit the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland website for information on:
- Date of offence:
- Townsville Magistrates Court
- Scott Luxton
- s.446 (1)Work Health Safety Regulation 2011
- Decision date:
- $1000 fine plus one year good behavior bond with a recognisance of $1000
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: