Ahead of National Asbestos Awareness Week in November, WHSQ inspectors audited businesses operating from buildings that were likely to contain asbestos or handle and store asbestos containing materials. The campaign targeted asbestos registers and management plans.
During the first month of the campaign, WHSQ inspectors visited 50 workplaces and issued 31 improvement notices and four infringement notices. The main areas of non-compliance were asbestos registers not being prepared, kept or reviewed, and duty holders not clearly indicating the presence and location of asbestos.
Visit the asbestos information available on the WorkSafe website to learn more about control methods.
An example of breaching obligations
In September 2023, a principal contractor of a commercial construction project was fined $75,000 for exposing workers to asbestos. Subcontractors were commissioned to install air conditioning in classrooms and during the process they cut holes in a ceiling that contained asbestos. This happened despite the principal contractor having a copy of the asbestos register which clearly identified the ceiling sheeting contained asbestos.
The subbies stopped work when they recognised asbestos in the ceiling sheeting.
The principal contractor was charged for a number of failures including not providing all subcontractors with the asbestos register for the workplace. They failed in their duty in directing work be conducted in a room where they had knowledge of asbestos being present, and they did not adequately manage the exposure to workers to asbestos.