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Details of successful prosecution against E188738

Incident description

The defendant was engaged by a homeowner to carry out work on her home. The defendant used a high pressure water spray unit to clean her roof, resulting in asbestos containing material (ACM) contamination on the property, as well as neighbouring properties.

Court result

The defendant pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 30 October to breaching s. 446 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, having contravened a prohibition on cleaning ACM in this manner, and was sentenced.

Magistrate John Hodgins fined the defendant $750. He also made a s.19 (1)b order of a 12 month good behaviour bond, per the Sentences and Penalties Act 1992, with a recognisance in the sum of $1000 to be forfeited if convicted of such an offence within this period. No conviction was recorded.

In reaching a decision, the magistrate acknowledged the serious issue ACM posed when uncontrolled.

In deciding penalty, Magistrate Hodgins 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.

As a final matter Magistrate Hodgins observed that the cleanup of the contamination was carried out by, and charged to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland because the defendant failed to arrange for de-contamination. Proceedings for recovery of these costs (approximately $35 000) was being considered.

Considerations for prevention

(Commentary under this heading is not part of the Court’s decision)

Cleaning a fibro roof with a high-pressure water spray can destroy the roof surface, causing cement debris and asbestos to spray into the air and result in widespread contamination.

High-pressure water sprayers are not the only tools which can damage a fibro roof, power tools such as grinders, saws and drills, and also brooms and similar equipment can cause damage.

Well maintained asbestos cement roofs are not a risk to human health unless they are physically disturbed and can be left alone until they are no longer water tight. Instead of cleaning an asbestos cement roof, apply a fungicide or sealant or consider replacing it.

Power tools, brooms and any other equipment that may release airborne asbestos can only be used if it's controlled by it being:

  • enclosed
  • designed and used in a way to capture or suppress airborne asbestos safely.

A combination of these controls may be required to ensure that airborne asbestos is not generated.

For further guidance refer to the How to manage and control asbestos in the workplace Code of Practice 2011.


Date of offence:
Maroochydore Magistrates Court
Mr John Hodgkins
s. 446 Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
Decision date:
$750 with a good behavior bond for a period of 12 months with recognizance of $1000 per s.19(1)(b) The Penalties and Sentences Act 1992
Maximum Penalty:
$3 600
Conviction recorded:
CIS event number:
Last updated
02 July 2018

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