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- Good morning, and welcome to the Electrical and Asbestos Safety in Rental Properties webinar. Thank you all very much for joining us this morning as part of Electrical Safety Week. I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on the event, on the land in which this event is taking place and pay my respect to elders past, present, and emerging. I would also like to extend this acknowledgement to the traditional owners and custodians of where all our online guests are today. My name's Donna Heelan, and I'm the Executive Director of the Electrical Safety Office. Our role is to ensure people work, live, and play safely with electricity across Queensland and beyond. Today, some housekeeping moments, if you have any questions for any of our great speakers, please type them in the chat box to the right of your screen, and we'll try and ask them all during the panel session at the end. If you have any technical problems at all, please make sure the sound on your computer is turned on, hit refresh in your browser, and if that doesn't work, jump on the chat box, and we'll see if we can help you out. You can change the size of your screen to full screen by selecting the four small arrows next to the volume bar at the bottom of the screen, so you can change the view that you can see. There are a range of legal responsibilities that landlords and property managers must follow to ensure their rental property is electrically safe and that asbestos is maintained and managed. It doesn't matter if it's a house, a unit, a duplex, a granny flat, a shed, or a townhouse. These legal responsibilities apply to everyone that has a rental property in Queensland. Today, we are going to hear from Sean O'Connor, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's Consultative Committee for Work Related in Serious Fatalities and Serious Incidents; Stacey Ozolins and Mark Pocock from the Electrical Safety Office; And Don and Julie Sager, safety advocates; and John Snooks, Asbestos Unit, Workplace Health and Safety. I'd like to start by giving you a very short overview about what's been happening in the Electrical Safety Office in Queensland. We have had a massive week. It is Electrical Safety Week, which we celebrate every year in Queensland. And we have had events every day this week across all of the Southeast Queensland corner and beyond. We've been at Mount Isa, Townsville, Weipa, Acacia Ridge, Springwood, and we've had some amazing feedback in volume, which says to me that people are interested in electrical safety and what they can do to make sure themselves and their loved ones are safe. So while we pause there and think about what Queensland dynamics and demographics look like, from an electrical perspective, we have 60,000 electrical workers and 12,000 electrical contractors. We also, tragically, in the last 12 months, recorded 25 serious electrical injuries. That's not a zap, a tingle, or a very small incident. That's where someone has been life-alteringly damaged and injured. And we've had four fatalities. Sadly, each of these fatalities is one too many, and only one of those fatalities was a licensed electrical worker, which means the other three were members of the general public, people like you and I. You play an absolutely critical role in this space, with over 35% of Queensland households being renters, and 43% of those rental households have children in them. In August of 2020, the Queensland minister for education, minister for industrial relations, and minister for racing, the honorable Grace Grace, announced an independent review of the Electrical Safety Act, which was 20 years old. The purpose of this review is to consider what changes we might need to make sure Queensland's electrical safety laws are fit for purpose, specifically in relation to new and emerging technologies, and make these recommendations to the minister for government consideration. The report and recommendations will be released in the coming months. On this note, as you all know, emerging technologies and renewable energy has led to significant change in the electricity generation, storage, and supply. Queensland, it is predicted, will move from using 5% renewable energy sources from 2020 to 70% in 2050. I'm really proud to lead the team at the Electrical Safety Office and to work with these amazing people that are with you today. Emerging and renewable technologies are very high on our agenda, but really importantly, for today's forum, the things that are really, really key is unlicensed electrical work, contact with overhead lines. Did you know that in Queensland, all of Australia and New Zealand, that 90% of the fatalities over the 20 years since 2020 were as a result of coming into contact with overhead lines? Safety switches. We're going to be talking about these safety switches and circuit breakers today off and on. And if you take nothing else away, it'll be look at your safety switches and look at your asbestos management plan for your rental. They are absolutely critical messages. Along with the final message, which is compliance with the sale of safe electrical equipment. We are integral in the recall of electrical equipment across Queensland and Australia, and we've had five recalls in the past year. One that's really important, and if you and your tenants, if you're not sure, check if you've got solar energy, if you've got an LG solar energy storage battery, google it, jump on our website, there is a recall, and it's really important that you're across that. We're working more broadly across Queensland. I have a great passion of getting out of the city. We've developed a community website that focuses on things that we're talking about today, with over 133,000 people visiting that in the last 24 months, which is amazing. There's obviously a desire for education and advisory out there in the community. We've had almost 500,000 people view our "Don't Do It Yourself" campaign. And we've been doing engagement activities in places like Mareeba, Atherton, Mancalister, Ingham, Lucinda, Cairns, Cloncurry, and Weipa. But that's enough from me. The speakers that you'll listen to today all share very important messages. And I thank them for taking their time out of their busy lives to come and spend time with us. I'd like to introduce our first speaker, Sean O'Connor. In 2017, Sean's sister Karen was killed by an electric shock when handling an electrical appliance with a hidden failure. Sean now works to prevent others from experiencing the grief from losing a loved one in an avoidable incident. Welcome, Sean.
- Thanks very much for the introduction. And thanks very much, everybody, for coming along today. Yeah, so I guess this is a little bit of a tricky one, always sharing a sad story, but pretty important point in regards to electrical safety, especially in rental properties. So long story short, I grew up with two sisters. They were twins. Our family suffered a loss of my sister Alana in 2013. And yeah, I guess we kind of weren't the same. And we were all working pretty hard to sort of keep things together. So would've been 2017, midnight, end of February, get a phone call. Karen, my last remaining sister, is dead. I didn't believe it, I thought I was woken up in a terrible dream. To make it all the more difficult, when I asked how, I thought, you know, maybe an accident, something like that. Yeah, she died from an electric shock. She was electrocuted. That was very difficult to take. One, losing the last of my siblings. But the other thing is our father is an electrician. He's been an electrician over 40 years. I myself work in the electrical industry and have been a supervisor and manager of large work groups of electricians. Electrical safety's been paramount to our family. The whole time I've been growing up, we'd never had a house that didn't have a safety switch, even before they were mandated. Dad would always make sure that we were taken care of. Where a requirement was only to have a safety switch on power points, we had them everywhere. I remember when I bought my first house, Dad went out of his way to make sure it was wired up and safe. So I guess back to losing Karen and the significance in regards to the rental properties. Karen essentially had an appliance that, well, she lived in a rental property, they'd purchased an appliance. There was some trouble with the appliance. She simply plugged it in, touched it, and she died alone in her backyard. It was several hours later when her roommates came home and found her. And it was too late to do anything to save her. There was not another chance for her. So I guess with the... It's a complex one. I remember after getting the call, I knew I had to get up there straightaway to be with Mum and Dad. And Karen lived just around the corner from my grandparents. Used to help them out with mobility, mowing the lawn, shopping, all that stuff. So it was a big things for us all to consider. And remember going around to the place, and my dad met me out the front, and we went out the back, and We're trying to piece together what had happened. And the appliance was gone. The scene was still there. And all that was left of my sister essentially was a little burn mark on the ground. So she'd grabbed the appliance. She couldn't let go. She fell down. It fell on top of her. And yeah, that was kind of it. Through all of the investigations and everything, it turned out that it was a submersible pump. Plug it in, stick it down the well, water comes out. And her and her roommate were very proud of their lawn. Why did she have a submersible pump in her hand? Well, that's my fault. I used to own acreage. My sister Karen used to live with me. I was very proud of my lawn. I had a submersible pump. Every now and then you'd pump a bit low, get a bit of silt in it, and the trick I'd showed her was you get a bucket of water, you get the pump, and you dunk it up and down a few times. So no tools, no touching electricity. These things are designed to live their life underwater. But yeah, give the impellers a little bit of a flush, test it out before you drop it back down the hole, and off you go. And it looked like she was doing exactly what I'd shown her to do. The difference with this circumstance was the property that she was in, the power point she was plugged into, there was no safety switch, there was no RCD installed. The other challenge is the appliance that she had had been brought into Australia and sold and distributed by an Australian company without going through the appropriate RCM process. So they'd sort of found a cheap deal online, bought a container load of them in, and sold them. So unbeknown to her with all of this, the reason why the pump wasn't working was a wire had come loose. It had snagged in the reciprocating part of the pump. It energized the frame. Submersible pumps, you know, big bit of poly pipe, connect them to the surface. So she'd hauled it up by the plastic pipe. She'd put a short little bit of pipe on it, put it in a bucket of water so she could test it. It was submerged, turned it on, didn't work. She'd grabbed it by the plastic handle. And then as she's grabbed the metal body, that was essentially the end of her life. It was the loss of my last remaining sibling. And I guess my parents went from, you know, having nice big family of three kids to just having me left. Yeah. Pretty tough. Maybe I'm going in circles talking about it, but yeah, I guess the thing is, if you plug an appliance into a wall in this day and age, you'd expect that you'd be protected. The laws states that there's obligations landlords have to protect the people in the property, the tenants. All of these things were expected to have been in place. My sister wasn't an electrician, so she wasn't able to go and have a look and verify all of those things. And I guess after the fact, having a look at the situation that she was in, for the industry that my father and I are both in, it's been quite a difficult one for us to live with, I guess. But yeah. Something to consider when you're purchasing. Okay, here's a good one. You're online, and you're looking for something, you're looking for some, I don't know, some LED strip lights for the kids' beds, something like that, and it says 240-volt AU plug, Australian plug, you're like, "Yeah, you beauty. I don't need to get one of those little funny adapter things, I can just plug it straight in." So you order it, it arrives from wherever, and you plug it in. There is a very good chance that unless that product came from an Australian vendor and has been through the RCM process, that you've got the equivalent of the pump that my sister had in her hands when she died. It sounds a little bit innocent, but I've shared this story a number of times at different workplaces around the place, and people, during the conversation, I'll go off and have a look around the office and come back with about four things that have been plugged into the wall that don't have the RCM mark, that haven't been through the appropriate process to make sure that they're safe for use in Australia. I guess the other thing is safety switches. Talking about this, people go off and have a look at their, you know, their home, their rental, their parents' place, their children's places, and the amount of people that come back and say, "I don't think we have a safety switch, or if we do, I can't identify it." Or, "If we do, I don't know when the last time was we've tested it," or importantly, "I pressed the test button and it didn't work." So we have a lot of expectations around things just happening and us just being safe. I guess there's a lot of things in the background that need to happen, and we all have some obligation in it. But yeah, I guess that's probably my story.
- Thank you so much, Sean, for sharing that today. You used the word challenge quite a few times, and I can only imagine the challenge that you have to actually come here and share that story. Sean raises some really important points, and something that I know that if you as a landlord can go and check your safety switches, can make sure and have a record of when they were last tested, to make sure that the equipment you are buying is safe. And that will be a great segue to our next group of speakers, which is Stacey and Mark from my team. But before I hand over to them, please remember, you've got the chat box. If you've got questions, comments, anything you'd like to say at all, if you'd like to leave a message for Sean or any of our speakers, please pop it in the chat, and they will absolutely see it, and we will try and respond wherever we can. So the next speakers, Stacey is the Director of Supply Networks for the Electrical Safety, and Mark Pocock is our Lead Inspector. They're going to talk about electrical safety responsibilities for landlords, as well as real-life scenarios and how tenants, property managers, and landlords can best manage these situations. Welcome, Stacey and Mark.
- Hey, how you going? My name is Mark Pocock. I'm a lead inspector with the Electrical Safety Office Compliance Unit. And with me today-
- I'm Stacey Ozolins, I work at the ESO alongside Mark and Donna and lot of that really great people. This morning, Sean just shared a very personal story with tragic outcomes, and I know that can be very confronting to hear. Sean's a member of a committee that no one wants to be in a position to be on. And we will talk today about what you can do to eliminate and manage electrical safety risks in rental properties.
- Yeah, thanks, Stacey. I just wanted to say thanks to Sean for sharing his story today, and also thanks for the other advocates for coming today, 'cause it does give that personal context. So initially we, Stacey and I were going to do separate presentations, but we decided to merge our talents and we thought we could achieve a better safety outcome. So Stacey and I, we're going to cover the topics today as best we can, and then I'm going to provide some context, 'cause my background is as an electrical worker and also as an inspector, so it's from that side of things. And Stacey has got some really good experience here in the industry as well.
- So the first thing we wanted to talk today about is what is a safety switch, or an RCD, which stands for residual current device? It protects people from electrocution and severe electric shock. They're located in the property's switchboard. In domestic properties, there needs to be at least a safety switch on all power point circuits, but the ESO does recommend that you have a safety switch on all circuits.
- So looking at the slide that we've got up at the moment, we've got a picture of a switchboard. So looking at the switchboard, on a scale of switchboards, we're looking at something that's reasonably new for yourselves. If you're a property manager, if you're a tenant, if you're an owner, this is, for me, this is a pretty good switchboard that you're looking at. It's been installed probably within the last 10 years. So do we think, looking at this switchboard, when we open this up, and we'll flip to the next slide. This is what we come across. So as a property manager, a tenant, or a owner, do we believe, and I'll ask the question to everyone, put your answer in the comments, that there's a safety switch on every circuit within this switchboard. Now, looking at everything that's in this switchboard here itself, it's all reasonably new as well. We've got no fuses. Everything's an actual switch itself. So yeah, let's have a look at some comments, everyone. We want to try and keep everyone engaged. So let's have that conversation. Do we think that there's a safety switch here on every circuit?
- [Stacey] And Mark mentioned just before that I'm actually not an electrician, I'm a non-technical person. But when I looked at this, I thought that there was a safety switch on every circuit here. Mark, is that right?
- [Mark] What's everyone's thoughts? Oh, we've got a couple answers.
- We've got lots of nos.
- No, that's good. So when we actually look at this switchboard itself, from what I can see is just issues with the marking of the switchboard. So initially look at it. There is marking there, but it can be quite confusing. What I'm looking at is the main switch is on the left-hand side, but the identification of it has faded, so it's quite difficult to read. We've got an oven that's next. And I don't believe that I can see a test switch there. So if there's no test switch that we can see on that, that should be just a circuit protection device. Then we've got lights, we've got power, we've got power. And then we've got two circuit breakers that just have RCD written above them. So we don't know what those circuits are, and we don't know how they're protected. So if I was to come across this switchboard as a property manager, tenant, I would want to delve into it a little bit deeper just to confirm that, aye, everything is protected. So what we're looking for is test switches. So you can see they're circled. We've got, depending on the brand, depending on exactly what type, how old it is, the test switch will be in a different location. It'll be a different size. But you're looking for something that's got a little T on it and that you'll be able to actually press it in. And when you press that test switch in, it will actually operate the safety switch. So it simulates a fault on there. And as an electrician, when I used to work out in the field, I would often go out to a site, and if I had to turn off a circuit to do some work and it was on a safety switch, I would always press the button to test it. Now, the amount of times that I did that and I found that it didn't operate, and it may have not operated for years, but the people hadn't, when I had that conversation with the person, whether it was an owner or a tenant, no one had really tested that safety switch, so they didn't know how long that had been in that situation. So that's what the question we want to ask ourselves when we open up that switchboard, it may be reasonably new board, may be an old board, but as a property manager, if we're doing an inspection as a tenant ourselves, when we look at that board, we just want to have that idea of what are we looking at? And if we don't understand what is on a safety switch, what isn't on a safety switch, we want to get that professional opinion.
- And shout out to Barry on the chat. Barry got that right. There is no safety switch on the stove.
- Well done, Barry.
- And Mick, no, it's not a home reno, but I do know the switchboard and the shed was added afterwards, after the house was constructed.
- Yeah, that's a good point there, 'cause the shed itself, when you look at the shed's circuit, there's no safety switch there, but if that's a sub line going to the shed, and there's a switchboard in the shed, there may be actual safety switches within the shed that you've then got to double check as well. You've got to make sure that you test those things. So we were talking before about just testing that. It's those regular intervals where we do want to test it. An easy way to remember to test your safety switch is when you get your power bill, it's a really good reminder. So you get your power bill in and you go, "Oh, yeah, okay, now I can go out and test that safety switch." You can press that button, and at the same time, you can test your smoke alarm there. Smoke alarms are a separate legislation to the electrical safety legislation, so from our side of things that we don't actually look at the smoke alarm safety. That's the QFES looks at that, at Queensland Fire and Emergency Services. But it's a good idea to test both of them at the same time. I know that's how I do it at home.
- So Mark, when you're testing your safety switches, what should someone do if they have any concerns?
- So with this safety switch, if you press the button and it doesn't do anything, the first thing you should do, if you're a tenant, you want to contact either your property manager and talk to your property manager, engage an electrical contractor. Now, that's the main thing that we want to check, that when you gauge an electrical contractor, that it's a licensed electrician who can do that operation and test time to make sure that it is working. So they may be able to come out, and they can do further additional testing. And then like we said before, we sort of try and bundle it together with, at the same time that you were called to do the safety switch, you're doing all the tests that you need to do with any of your equipment. It stays annually, quarterly, yearly tests that you want to do. So we've got a large range of information that we have on our website as well, and you can see it there in our resources. That just gives some handy information and tips around what we can do. Now, you'll hear often people talking about, I always hear that, and I used to hear it as an electrician, nuisance tripping. I never consider it a nuisance trip. It's either tripping for a reason. So it's either not working, or there's something on the circuit that's causing an issue. So yeah, I never consider it a nuisance trip. There's an issue. Something needs to be looked at. This is a really good topic, specifically with anyone's home, but rental properties, this really comes to the forefront. So I believe when we look at electricity itself as a source of energy, it's become such an integral part of our lives that I think we've all become quite complacent around the dangers that are associated with electricity. It's everywhere, it's in everything. And it's been around for so long now that it's just part of our lives. So we forget that if there is a fault within our electrical installation, but not only within ours, but say with a neighbor's or a neighbor's on top of that, we can get a voltage rise on the earthing system. And what that'll do is then it'll cause conductive material in and around the building to become energized, and then essentially dangerous. When this does occur, people will describe that when they touch either metal objects or anything that's conductive around the house, that they'll feel like a tingling sensation in their hands. And I'm sure we've all felt that. If you bump your elbow, especially on your funny bone, you get that tingling sensation that goes down. It's very similar to that. So if you are experiencing that tingling sensation, what you've got to recognize is you're actually experiencing electric shock. So it's often as a result of a fault. So you need to either straightaway, first thing, don't touch anything that's metal or that's conductive. Contact your electrical entity and let them know immediately. And yeah, just ensure that everyone in your family doesn't touch anything that's going to be, so like, think of like a fridge, a stove, anything in your house that's going to have that metal surface that could give you that shock. So as a tenant, if you're on here as a tenant, you're looking to contact the entity, but then also contact the property manager just to let them know what's occurred. And as a property manager, you'd be looking to liaise with your tenant, liaise with the entity. Often you'll have to get onto your electrical contractor. And you know, as the property owner yourself, you just want to make sure that your property is going to be electrically safe, especially if you've got, you know, people's lives in your hand, if there are tenants in your property. So, you know, with this sort of thing, when things do go wrong, they go horribly wrong. I had a situation with a sporting club that I was with that I think it took a month, but for a month, you'd go into the dugout and touch the tap, and you'd get that tingling sensation. And we forever were telling the people with management and control about it. It was always happening late at night, 'cause that's when we were training, and it might be nine o'clock at night, so there's no one to talk to. And it just took so long for it to get sorted out. The other one that comes to mind for me is that tragic incident in Western Australia with the young girl, I think her name, her last name was Woods, but you know, she touched the tap outside, and yeah, she's in a really, really bad way still because of something as simple as like, they would've had those precursors where you get the tingles first, so normally it starts minor, and you'll start to have that tingling sensation, and it'll just get worse and worse and worse until you've got that issue that causes an electric shock. So we're going to talk as well today about electrical work. So any property, you're going to need electrical work done at some point. So all electrical work is licensed work. It needs to be done. And it can only be performed by a licensed electrical contractor or a licensed electrician who's employed by a contractor. So from that, how do we know that someone is going to be a licensed contractor or a licensed worker? So you can go to our website and on our website, you can see there that you are able to type in the person's name, if you've got a license number, and it'll verify if that person's licensed, if they've had disciplinary action taken against them as well. Why should you need to do that? Especially if it's a contractor, say you're a property manager and you use a contractor all the time, and that contractor, you know he's licensed, you've got it recorded. What we've seen from my level as an inspector is sometimes those license, it'll expire. Especially a contractor's license, you've got to do it every 12 months. They change address. It goes out to the wrong address. The license expires, they haven't realized. And then from there, they're working unlicensed just in that period while they haven't got it. So there's potentially no risk with the work, because they're still doing the work as they've always done. But the issues come then when you're looking at the insurance side of things. So the other thing you can do when electrical work has been undertaken at your property is a licensed contractor has to issue what's called a Certificate of Testing and Compliance. Now, that will certify, that's that self-certification practice that the electrician is saying that everything, that all the work that they've done and how that work has affected your installation is going to be safe. They've tested it, and everything's good to go. So it's peace of mind for yourself if you're a tenant. It's also peace of mind if you're a property manager or an owner that the work that's been undertaken is going to be nice and safe. So unlike, it's always that thing, unlike other trades and other areas, all electricians, we have to go through that extensive training throughout our apprenticeship. We have the underpinning theory that we have when we go to college, and there's quite a lot there. But then you've got the experience that we have when we go out in the field. So not only is it that legislative requirement to maintain competency in whatever work you're going to do as an electrician, it's just, you don't have that same level that you have with other work, so you can get handymen who can come out often in real estate situations that can do that work that doesn't need a license. But electrical, it's just not one of those areas.
- So like Mark said, not all trades are licensed trades. Trades like electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, they're highly skilled and you must engage a licensed contractor. And some other home maintenance work isn't licensed, like handymen, for example. And they don't need to hold a license with the Electrical Safety Office to do that work.
- So solar systems. I'm trying to remember when exactly they pushed the solar system, really pushed in. It really pressed ahead to the point that you can go into any neighborhood now, and most houses have got some form of solar attached to the roof. So it's that what we have to remember is to ensure that the solar PV system is going to be operating in a way that's going to be efficient, it's going to be safe, but also provide the power that it's actually meant to do. So we need to do that regular maintenance, and that's often performed in accordance with what the manufacturer says. So when you get, I think in that handover process, you'll have a whole heap of information that's provided with you. That information's going to have all of those details around when should your scheduled maintenance be. And it's easy to go outside even, and just have a look at the system, and you'll see that dust buildup that happens on there, and that's just dropped the efficiency. If one of the big things, and Stacey, working with Supply Networks knows, is the storms and things like that that happen.
- Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's something people don't always remember is that a solar system is an electricity generation system. The only time that a solar system isn't working is at night. So that's why it's really important to never do your own electrical work or your maintenance. Always get a licensed electrician to come out to your home and have a look at your solar system. You don't know if something you're touching could be live, so it's best to get the right people out to check that and make sure that it's working properly and efficiently.
- Yeah, I think that's the thing, isn't it, when we think about a solar system itself, you know, we talked before about just the complacency that we've got with electricity now just in society itself. And the fact that we've got, we've actually got a generation system for electricity on our roof. So while the sun's out, it's generating. So if something goes wrong and we're trying to get up there to see what's happening, we got a generation system that's up on the roof, there's a chance you're going to get a shock, even if it's a small one. And it's on the roof. You can fall off. So Sean, he covered this really well, talking about your portable electrical equipment. So we're trying to get more public awareness about this topic. You know, and what can go wrong if you get a piece of faulty electrical equipment. So the RCM mark on equipment means that the supplier has declared the product has been tested and is compliant with Australian standards and the electrical safety requirements. So we're looking for this tick now. You can see it on the screen. It's really bold. You'll see it on small packaging and things like that. The good, what it is, is we've always had compliance with equipment when it comes into the country. Where the RCM has come in, it's is combined two independent schemes into one single mark that's easily to identify for the public. Because before, you used to have that number, and it'd be SAA, and it'd be this, and each state had their own. And it became quite difficult because when you look at say a small piece of electrical equipment, the main plate data's just, look, it's full of numbers, letters that's very difficult for anyone, even someone like ourselves in the industry to try and work out what's going on, unless you work in equipment safety. So I think the RCM is really good. It's a shift away from having like a small number, and it's just a single mark that's quite easy to identify for anyone. Landlords, that's the other thing. If landlord's importing equipment to Australia for use in a rental property, they also then have to register as a responsible supplier of that equipment with the Electrical Equipment Safety System, the EESS, to ensure it meets the standards, certified, it's registered. Where that comes into play, if you think, if you're developing a property, say as either a real estate or an owner or someone, and you've got multiple blocks of equipment, I was involved in a job where it was a resort that was getting upgraded, and it had been run down for quite some time, and they were fixing it all up. And the people that were doing that resort, they brought in all these containers of equipment for all the rooms, so it was lamps, fridges, anything that was going to be, hairdryers, all that sort of equipment was coming in. The electrician who was on site, who was doing all the work, he happened to look at one of the lamps 'cause he was just looking at the lamp. And he flipped it upside down, and you could just tear the bottom, it was like foam. You could just tear that off and you could see all the connections, and anyone could access them. And so he sent a photo of it to us and said, "Is this compliant with Australian standards?" We were able to go to site, have a look at it. And none of the equipment had any certification at all. So we had to explain that process to the resort around, okay, hang on, you're importing this equipment. You then have to make sure that it's registered, that it's electrically safe, and it's certified. So it's just that knowledge. Like I always think, knowledge is the key in this space. So it's that knowledge to, yeah, be aware of that sort of thing if you're going to be importing equipment to use in your rental properties. And also, be careful when you're purchasing online. It's the nature of society at the moment. Everything costs a lot of money, and we all tend to gravitate, myself included, towards deals online. I don't really like to go out too much, and over the last two years, I think everyone's just avoided going outside as much. So we do a lot of shopping online. It's just that knowledge of being aware that if we do buy something online that, you know, we're aware of it.
- And cheaper doesn't always mean it is safe. And Mark, we'll have a lot of people online today who are going to go after today, or even during, like Sean mentioned, and check their products to see if they have an RCM symbol on there. What should they do if they're not sure if their product is safe or if it meets standards? What should they do?
- We, you know, we heard from Sean before, that the easiest thing you can do is just stop using it. From there, you can go to the EESS website, and you can see if the product is registered. So going onto that, like you're looking for that nameplate data, and from there, you can enter that data, and it'll tell you like that whole life cycle of that piece of equipment, where it's been certified, how it's gone through. Now, I've tried to navigate that system sometimes, and it can be difficult, so if you're not sure, the best thing to do is don't take the risk. Either talk to someone who can like basically help you in that certification process, that it's okay. Or I'd just look at replacing it. Peace of mind is always better when we're, you know, dealing with people's lives. I think that's the thing we can forget, and someone like Sean's terrible story can, you know, put back in our minds.
- And you can check for recalled equipment at the www.recalls.gov.au to see if any equipment you've got, either in your own home or a property that you're renting, is safe. Which leads us onto charging electrical equipment. It is something that ESO is talking a lot in the community about. It's really, really important that we always use the correct charger for the product. Never mix and match batteries and battery chargers. Only use chargers that meet Australian standards. We've just talked about the RCM. Look for that. If you're buying a product that requires charging, look for that symbol. When you are charging, make sure it's on a hard surface, that there's a clear space around them so that the heat can dissipate and something won't catch fire. Keep your chargers and your batteries clear of combustible material. And this is really important, because what we see a lot of, particularly with families with young kids, is charging on bedding or a couch. We're really encouraging people not to charge things like phones, tablets, laptops on your bed. Particularly anyone else with teenagers who you know are connected to their devices 24/7, it's important that we're managing those risks. When you have charged a battery, make sure you let it cool down before you recharge or use it again. And unless the manufacturer's instructions say that the battery is designed to be continuously connected, always make sure you unplug that charger once it's finished charging. Things like, you know, stick vacuums, et cetera. And I like to talk about this topic because I've actually had this happen in my own home with a battery from a remote control car that my son has. It's a bit different to the remote control car on the picture here, it's from a hobby shop, so it's a seven-volt lithium battery. And there is manufacturers' instructions. It's really clear about how to discharge and charge those batteries. So this one wasn't discharged, and it is just lucky that we were home at the time that this happened. It was inside our house. And the battery started to explode and catch fire, and I'll pop a little picture on the screen. I spoke to some primary school students earlier this week about the battery exploding, and I had a little girl tell me that she thought it might have sounded like a bomb going off. It didn't. It was a really light sound. Only through my work I knew that that battery was about to burst into flames, which it did. And it was very, very difficult to extinguish. We've still have a nice burnt mark in the grass outside. So it's really important. If we weren't home that day, it would've burnt our house down.
- It's one of those things as a inspector as well, we work with fire investigations where we help the QFES identify, you know, areas of origin, source of ignition. And it is something that we do see things like this where equipment can catch fire. So it is something just to be vigilant on, I think, about where you're doing it, how you're doing it.
- Yeah, especially with kids, I think. You know, everyone's connected. It's not like when people my age and a little bit older were growing up. You've got tablets and laptops and phones, and there's USB portals everywhere to charge that. We've got a USB portal in our electric recliners. That's connected to 240-volt electricity, you know? You can get a shock from that, so it's important to be safe.
- Yeah, that's right. It's in everything now, we can assume, electricity. They're certainly moving forward with the battery cars, battery everything. Yeah, it's going to be one of those things that we just need to be vigilant on.
- Absolutely. And Mark's already talked about tingles and shocks. We wanted to talk a little bit as well around permanent appliances. So a permanent appliance is one that is installed by a licensed electrician. It's hardwired. It's not plug-and-play. And that includes things like ovens, light fittings, air conditioners, hot water systems. If your tenant has advised you that they've had a shock from any one of these types of appliances, you need to advise the tenant to stop using that appliance immediately. It's also another reason why a safety switch on every circuit is really important. You need to contact your licensed contractor to come in and test and inspect that equipment and make it safe.
- So continuing on with that, we're looking at just the maintenance with regards to electrical equipment at a property. So looking at the duties to maintain the equipment and appliances that use supply. So we're looking at the legislative side of things here. So, you know, poorly maintained equipment, what can happen, well, yeah, it could cause a shock or a fire. And from that, then you could end up that someone could end up deceased, or you burn a property down. So these are sort of looking at here, just questions that I'm looking at posing, not for people to answer, but just to play over in your own heads, is for real estate tenants and owners, how do we define an unsafe electrical situation yourselves? You know what I mean? Don't go, oh, here's the legislative term. Just break it down in your own head and your own situation. What does an unsafe electrical situation mean to you? You know, what training have you provided as a property manager regarding what is unsafe? So how does someone know who's going to go to do an inspection to the site, what they're looking for, why am I looking at that? And then what information are you giving your landlords with regard to what they need to do? And I'll give you an example. I had a real estate where a tenant called up, and they said they'd received an electric shock. And from there, think about what processes are within the real estate in that situation. So think about that all the way down the chain to the person who just answers the phone. So you're talking to, it might be a receptionist, where someone calls up and says I've had an electric shock. Now, in the scenario that I had, someone called up said they've had an electric shock. They basically said that I fixed it, everything's all sweet. So it went unactioned at the real estate because they look at things and went, okay, everything's fixed, I don't need to really send anyone there. So think about that situation and how we can improve on that situation.
- What kind of things should a real estate agent do, Mark, if that happens to them? If you get a call from a tenant to say that they've had a shock and they've fixed it, what are the kind of risks that they need to be aware of?
- So where I look at it there, so if you've received that call, everyone in that supply chain, you want to close that loop, so everyone understands why they're doing what they're doing. So if someone receives a call, they understand, okay, someone's received a shock. I need to do this because of this reason. And then understand their duties, understanding where they can do things. So often it'll be, oh, I can't do this. I can't action this because the owner hasn't told me that I can action this. Whereas we want to understand, okay, if something like this happens in an emergency situation, what happens? Does the tenant know what he's supposed to do? Does the property manager? Does the person answering the phone? Like, you want all of those systems in place so that things are really easy. The way I look at it as well, if you compare it to a situation, think if you're in a sports team, running a scenario like this in your real estate can really help with an emergency procedure and make sure that you iron out any kinks. If you play a game and you do things terribly, how do you manage it? Well, you go back to training as a sports team and you work on those areas where you need to fix things in your game. It's exactly the same in the workplace. So you can run a scenario. What happens if we get a shock? What happens if this person do it? Run that scenario through the whole process, and then from there, you'll be able to recognize where can I help, where can I change things?
- Lovely. We are getting a little bit of a wind up to get a bit quicker because we've got so much information and we're very passionate. So we'll push forward a little bit faster. Ceiling spaces. Inevitably you'll have someone in the ceiling, and that may not always be an electrician. We recommend that you always switch off the power before entering a ceiling space. The kind of people that can get up there is pest management. You might have a tenant getting up there to store something. Turn the power off if you're not sure of what those risks are.
- It's one of those things that we hear a lot with the change in legislation around risk management and getting in ceilings, and we've had a couple of incidents around it. You know, the way to stay safer is to turn it off there. But it's that realization that if you are getting up in the roof, there is still going to be power. Even if you turn it off, there's still going to be power accessible. So it's that understanding that, you know, cable insulation, it isn't an indestructible material. It can be damaged, and it can result in exposed live parts. Also, you can have exposed live parts up there, and even if you turn the power off and say, it's the consumer's main, they may be in a situation that you can't visibly see them. And there's a situation in New South Wales at the moment that's going through the Coroners Court I think it is, where a builder, exactly that happened. The power was turned off, he's touched the consumer's mains, and unfortunately he's been in a shock incident where he has passed away.
- So it's always important to plan ahead, make sure the power can be turned off. Talk to your tenants when there's someone there to do work that the power will need to be turned off for a short period while that work is done. And always let someone know, or encourage your tenants to let someone know that they're up in the ceiling so they can check if they need to, if they haven't heard or seen someone for a little while. Overhead lines and underground cables. So we are living, like Mark said earlier, we're living around electricity all the time. Anywhere there's a rental property, there's either overhead power lines or underground cables. And you'll see those little pillar boxes, which are the equivalent of an underground connection. Before you work, always check for overhead power lines. We see a lot of incidents in the community, and as Donna said earlier, it's typically members of the community that make contact with overhead power lines. You can use services like Dial Before You Dig and Look Up and Live to assist with planning. And keep out of an exclusion zone with an overhead line. And I like to talk about it like a three-meter box around the power line and the pole. Keep out of there, because what people don't always understand is that electricity can jump. You don't have to touch it. It can jump to you. If you are too close to it, it will arc to you, and you can receive a severe electric shock or an electrocution. Before any kind of excavation works are happening, like building a fence or putting in a pool, a retaining wall, it's always important to use those services, like Dial Before You Dig, and do some cable locating like pot hauling to make sure that you know where those underground cables are. Underground cables can move when the earth moves, so even though you might have information that it's a certain distance underground, proceed with caution to make sure that there's no incidents. Think ahead for new work about where you're going to put a retaining wall or pool, or where you're going to plant trees and gardens, 'cause it can affect what's under the ground that you can't see day in, day out.
- So the purchase and sale of properties, we just want to, we'll cover this quickly here as well. So it's not a requirement, but we also encourage that you get an electrical safety inspection as part of the property sale of purchase. So it'll be similar to a building in past, but those inspections don't actually cover anything electrical. I remember my auntie moved up from Sydney to Brisbane, and she got the building inspection, thought everything was all good, and yeah, they found that there was power points wired in extension cords and all these sorts of things after the purchase. So as a person buying a property, as an owner, it's something that we certainly encourage that can help a smooth transition in that sale.
- When a property is sold, the seller must provide a written notice to the purchaser about whether or not there is a safety switch installed. And within three months after the date of possession, a purchaser must have approved safety switches installed for power circuits if there weren't already some there.
- So this is a good picture. I actually took this photo. So during storms and disasters, we just need to be aware of the safety risks that are going to be associated with storms and disasters. So the common issues that we do see include, like we have flood damage, especially in Brisbane of late, and it's going to continue. So yeah, it's one of those things. Floods. We've got roof damage. Yeah, it's one thing that we need to just risk manage.
- Absolutely, so if there is an emergency scenario or an unemergency happening, if the power's gone out or there's some damage, contact the entity and have a contractor undertake a inspection and test to make sure that that installation or the equipment that's been in flood waters is safe to use.
- So I know we've taken a lot of time this morning, but I think we've covered some good information. Reporting and support. You've got all the links up here. And yeah, from there, hopefully everyone can gain some electrical safety tips from Stacey and I today.
- [Stacey] And jump on the website if you need any more resources in your work. It's available there for you. Thanks for your time.
- Thank you.
- Thank you, Mark and Stacey. They have got our website up on the screen, and we'll leave it there for a little moment. And I can also, if I can encourage you to join our Facebook page, there's a wealth of information on there. There's two things in the chat that I just want to touch on before we introduce the lovely Don and Julie Sager. The first one is, could landlords be held liable for electrical appliances, dishwashers, hot ovens, they are all hot, hot water systems and ovens? Absolutely. You need to have a system in place, whether you're the landlord or the real estate agent, you need to make sure you've got a system in place to check that equipment annually. At least once a year, get someone out to make sure that equipment is compliant with Australian standards, compliant with our electrical safety laws, and that they're safe for use. The other question in there was can I put in, or if it's in the lease agreement that it is the tenant's responsibility to ensure the compliance of electrical equipment? Absolutely not. You can put whatever you want in that document, you cannot contract out your duties under the legislation. So I can't say to Stacey, "You're renting my house. The electrical safety of your air conditioner and your stove is on you." It's absolutely not. It will always come back to me. So the legislation's very clear in that space that you cannot contract out your duties. I'd now like to change pace. We're going to start talking about the very important topic of asbestos. And I'd like to welcome our Workplace Health and Safety Queensland advocates, Julie and Don Sager. Sadly, their son Adam died from asbestos-related disease at 25 years of age. They visit Queensland workplaces to educate people about the risk of exposure to asbestos. I'd like you to join me in welcoming Julie and Don. Thank you.
- Thanks, Donna. And thanks to everybody for having us along. Yes, I'm Julie, and this is my husband, Don, and we are the very proud parents of Adam. In March this year, our Adam would've been 40. And then in April we got together and remembered him. It was 15 years since he'd passed away. In 1983, Adam was, we were handed the keys to our house, our very first house. I was a baby, Don was a baby in our early, early 20s. And we thought we were going to do the right thing and save some money, which I'm sure everybody wants to do when they're building their first home. And we painted the walls of that home. The home was a kit home with pre-fabricated walls, so it had insulation on the inside. What we didn't know is that it actually had asbestos on the outside. There were warnings, there were labels, but they were inside the walls, not outside. So we actually had no idea that that was the case. So we spent a week, the royal we, mostly Don was there, and Adam was with us. We spent a week sanding the walls to that home before it was painted. Adam, as a little fellow, thought he was helping. He swept the floors. He tidied up around us. We were so diligent in making sure that he was safe. We locked all the windows and doors so that he couldn't get out. 20-odd years later, I got a phone call in the middle of the night from Adam to say that he actually wasn't coming home that weekend. He was actually living in Brisbane, being a young man, living his life, and we were living in Cairns, and he was to come home to say goodbye to his sister who was going to start her life in Adelaide, and we were having a surprise dinner for her. And he rang to say he wasn't coming home. And my initial response was, "Why now? What's more important?" And he said, "Mum, I'm in hospital. I've had 1.5 liters of fluid taken off my lungs." To be honest, that just started a roller coaster of, what? So for a few days I wandered around, and we all wandered around wondering what to do. That was the very first time I had to choose between my children, something I think no parents should ever have to do. So eventually, Don went and helped Teagan pack up her home, and I flew to Brisbane. Don got in the car after that and drove straight through to Brisbane when they said to us, "There's something ugly here and we don't really know what it is." But because Adam was so young, they were looking, they weren't looking for anything to do with asbestos. They just knew there was something wrong with his lungs. So that started a six weeks, six weeks in hospital, coming and going, us coming and going, him taking up residence with every wall covered in posters and letters and pictures that had been sent and drawn for him. Until the words mesothelioma were bantered around, and we had no idea what they meant. He wanted to have a shower in his own home, so we took him home, and he had a shower, and the phone rang, and I've never answered his phone, ever. And I did this time, and I'm very grateful I did. And it was from the specialist to say, "Your son has mesothelioma and he'll be dead in six months." I don't think we've ever really had to do anything harder than tell him that he was going to die. And his response to us was it's all good, we'll sort that out. So that as long as he was on that tangent, so were we. So we kept going with him, and the whole time he was unwell, he was helping other people and trying to educate other people. So what we found then is we had to find out how he became in touch with asbestos and what it can actually do, remembering that this is 2006, and we didn't have as wide of contact with the internet and mobile phones, and it just wasn't in hip pocket anymore like it is now. It was something you had to actually look for. So we had only recently moved home, and we had found the contract to that home, the original house, and it was researched. And the research showed that our house was made from the last pack of asbestos-containing material for that builder in that instance that came out of that factory. It was another thing, like, gosh, just one more week, if they had have well held off one more week and ordered our home, Adam would still be here with us today. So that was July 2006, and our beautiful boy took his last breath on the 29th of April, 2007. So from then we just sort of jump on the bandwagon, and we beat this drum about safety and awareness and making sure that the people around you, not only the ones that you love, but the people that are in your vicinity and the people that are renting your homes or buying your homes or in your homes are safe and cared for. And you have an obligation as humans to care for those and make sure where you are is safe and sound. We renovate ourselves. I find it traumatic, but the cold, hard fact is we have to be educated about this. We have to make sure that we know what we're doing. And if we don't know what we're doing, we need to learn, educate again, and make sure we have licensed workers that are in our homes. DIY is something that's so huge these days. There are so many TV shows about it. I love watching them myself, 'cause there's a little part of me that thinks I just want to trick them and make sure that they're doing the right thing. But the numbers just are getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
- Yeah, as Julie said, the disease takes a long time to manifest. It comes in several forms, it's asbestosis, and the cancer that comes from asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, and it takes 20 to 40 years to manifest. It's normally asbestosis that comes with those who work with it all the time. It's those that have the minor exposure that we've been told is those that get mesothelioma. Adam being so young, and the timeline from when we could put a time on when we thought he could've been exposed, sort of just adds to that fact that minimal exposure can even cause the serious cancer. Today there's, each year in Australia, 700, around 700 people die from mesothelioma. We don't know the numbers that may have asbestosis or other diseases related from asbestos exposure. But it's also known that it's not necessarily the person actually doing the works. It's the bystander. It's the person just beside you.
- The numbers that we have on this go into the thousands of people who are diagnosed every year. And that's only people that register with law firms, asbestos associations, it's that doesn't account for people who don't take any notice or who are diagnosed with a lung disease or a heart disease, and it actually could possibly be that, but they've died, and it's not been noted for that. So the numbers are probably bigger than that. People are working tirelessly to educate and to make sure that people take this seriously. It's a big thing. Adam would've been a really great dad. We never watched him get married. We miss out on him and his grandchildren. We've got two beautiful grandsons that he would've been the best uncle. Actually, I think he still might tap them on the shoulder when it's time to be naughty. But they're the things that no one needs to miss out on when you've got something that you can control. And if you've got a substance like asbestos, that if you think that there's something in there, have your home tested. Have the properties that you're renting out tested. You wouldn't not put your child in his seatbelt if to go around the corner. So why would you put your family or other families at risk and not know what is in your home or what is in the house or the property that you are renting? And if there are issues, get it dealt with by a professional, someone who knows what they're doing, because we can't all know everything. And I would've been that person, we were talking earlier, I would've been that person that said, "That air conditioner has been sitting on the floor for the last three months when we bought it on sale. Put it in the wall." And Don would've been compliant and said, "I want to make you happy." But now to make us happy and to keep us safe sometimes are two different things. So we just need to be aware. And we don't want this to be anybody else having to have these talks and do these talks and wake up every morning and think, yep, this really did happen. And it's part and parcel of who we are.
- The rental properties is probably one way we can go the next step. We've got all the government buildings and major community centers and community areas, rental properties where tenants change quite regularly, and an asbestos register for that property is imperative, not only for those that live there, but the trades that come to do the work. And if they know that they're working with asbestos, there are tools that they have in their training. And if they're not trained in it, then they're not registered tradesmen or licensed tradesmen. So we've got to be using licensed people to do our licensed work when people's health and safety is important. And that's where people live. Thank you.
- I think that's it. We're just about out of time, and it's just such an important thing is with electricity and asbestos, you just can't be sure. You've just got to make sure you make the right decision. Thanks.
- Thank you.
- Thanks, Don and Julie. if you haven't seen Adam's story, it's on our website, or if you google Losing Breath: Adam's Story," it'll come up with the very tragic story that Don and Julie relive every day. And I know they would much rather be having coffee with Adam and Teagan this morning than coming to talk to you, but they do it in the hope that it will save one family from living the experience that they have had to live through. Don and Julie have mentioned about education, and education is key. As Australians we say, "She'll be right. Won't happen to me, mate." It's something with things like asbestos and electricity, we just need to change that mentality. Because like Julie and Don clearly said, you don't need to work with asbestos day in, day out to get mesothelioma, and you don't need to, you know, be really complacent in that space. It's something we really need to change and flip the switch to be a little bit more educated about. Moving to our last speaker today is John Snooks. John is from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's Asbestos Unit, and he'll be discussing how to live with and manage asbestos in rental properties. Like it was said earlier, if your property was built before 1990, it is likely to contain asbestos. So I'm sure you'll find this information extremely useful. Welcome, John.
- Thank you, Donna. Thank you, Don and Julie, for that story. It's a bit hard to follow after this. As Donna said, my name's John Snooks. I'm Chief Advisor Asbestos for the OAR. And I'm just here to give you a brief rundown on what asbestos looks like in your rental property and how you can effectively manage it. So basically asbestos is a natural forming mineral that we've mined, and it comes from two types, amphibole and serpentine. So normally in asbestos used in Australia is we have the blue asbestos, the brown asbestos, and the white asbestos. They're the three common types that you'll come across. So why do we use it so much? 'Cause it's naturally occurring, it was cheap to mine, it has great flexibility, high tensile strength, so it was used as a binding product in those materials. It has the ability insulate from heat, and it doesn't conduct electricity. So it was used extensively for a number of years. Now, you might come across a sticker, such as on the right of the screen there. That's a warning label to tell you that it contains asbestos. So at the end of 2003, the Australian government banned asbestos for the use of it and the importation. But it was phased out in about the mid 1980s in its use. So as a general rule, if we say your house is built after 1990, it is unlikely to contain an asbestos containing material, as opposed to between the '80s and '90s, that it's likely to contain asbestos. And if it's anything built before the 1980s, then it's highly likely that asbestos-containing materials will be present in that property. So if we're going to look at does my rental property contain asbestos, look at the age of the building. If it's pre-1990, you're likely going to have asbestos-containing materials there. Or if there's been any renovations as well, you look at that timeframe and work out whether there's going to be asbestos present or not. You could see a label or you can look and feel of the product. So the bottom picture down the right-hand side, it's got like a golf ball appearance on it. It's called dimple back. If you see that on a cement sheet, you know that it contains asbestos. The top two photos, they show you protruding nail heads. These old cement sheets are very, very hard, and the nail heads couldn't penetrate into the cement sheet. You also might get some cover strips over the joiners of the sheets as well as an indication. So we're going to go through a few pictures to give you some common locations where you can find asbestos-containing materials in your rental property. Further information, you can go to the Asbestos Queensland website, where asbestos products gallery. There's a lot of photos there that will give you further information. So if we have a look at these first two photos, they're two photos of shingle roofs. They're both asbestos cement sheet. From a distance, the one on the left can actually look like a slate roof, but it's actually not. It's asbestos-containing material. Here we have two corrugated cement sheet roofs. The one on the left is a Super Six roof, and the one on the right is the standard corrugated. They're both made of a cement matrix. One's painted, the other's not. We've recently had a lot of incidents lately where people wish to get their cement sheet roofs repainted. There's methods on this website of how to do this. You don't let anyone pressure spray the asbestos roof. Causes a lot of damage to your property and the neighboring property with asbestos contamination. So I recommend you get any roof tested before you want to repaint if the property's pre-1990. The picture on the left, you can see it's got the asbestos roof. The guttering's asbestos, the down pipe's asbestos, the feet lining's asbestos, the external wall is asbestos, and the cover strip on the corner is also asbestos. On the right-hand side, you've got the asbestos-clad cement sheet wall with the cover strip as well on the corner. A lot of asbestos products were made to mimic weather boards. So on the left you can see there's a horizontal weather board molded material. And on the right-hand side is a vertical with the board material. Here on the left, you've got your flat cement sheet cladding on the external of the property. And you've got your cover strips as well and the corners material. On the right-hand side, you got your feet line. Now, they can be a solid sheet, they can have the slots in it for ventilation, or they can have drilled holes as well. Your meter board, you've got those black electrical meter boards. They smell obechemous product. As soon as you open the door, you can smell obechemous, and that's a good indication that it could be an asbestos meter board. And the one on the right-hand side, you've got the cement sheet lining to your meter board, plus the backing board as well is cement sheet. You might have floor tiles inside your property. They can be 9-by-9 inch or 12-by-12 inch. They can contain asbestos. Also on the left-hand photo, in your shower area or around your bathtub, you could get a product called Tilux, which is a very hard cement sheet that's patterned that's made for waterproofing. On the right-hand side picture we've got a sheet lino that's got a gray backing. That gray backing is a hundred percent asbestos, and it's very dangerous if disturbed, and will likely generate a lot of airborne asbestos fibers. So usually in the wet areas of houses, bathrooms, toilets, kitchens, you'll find a cement sheet on the wall as a waterproofing. So here you can see behind the cistern where they've put a new cistern on, and it's unpainted. You can see the cement sheet behind it. On the right-hand side picture is a ceiling. We can see the butting of four sheets together where they haven't got a cover strip on them. Now, these next couple of products are a product called low-density fiber board. They're a much softer fiber board and high risk. The one on the left is a ceiling panel. It's got the perforations in it. And you can see how the nails don't protrude. They actually sit in flush with the sheets because the sheets are much softer. And on the right, you can see the Asbestolux label on the back of it. So low-density fiber board, or LDB, it's up to 70% pure asbestos. And it's a calcium silica matrix is binding it rather than a cement matrix. You can see the picture there. Lots of fiber bundles sticking out of it. Now, this product can look like a newer cement sheet. Don't mistake it for a newer cement sheet. It's much softer. So the bottom right-hand picture here, you can see you can drive a screwdriver into that LDB quite easily. So the left-hand photo, you can see we've got the low-density board where the nail sits flush, versus asbestos cement fiber board on the right-hand side where that cloud head is sitting proud. So the Queensland government website, again, there's a lot of pictures, there's videos. Tells you how to manage asbestos. I recommend you go and have a look at that just to know where asbestos is in your property. It can be lurking anywhere. So if you have to deal with asbestos in your rental property, always recommend, engage a licensed asbestos removalist to do any work. They'll have all the right equipment, and they'll know what the process is to deal with it effectively, and they won't endanger your tenants or the neighbors nearby. Or if you're intent on doing it yourself, at least follow the regulations. So don't remove anything greater than 10 square meters of non-friable asbestos. You're not allowed to touch any friable asbestos, which includes low-density board. And you're allowed to wipe up a little bit of dust. But once again, you've got to do it in a safe method. So you've got to follow the code of practice. You've got to be wearing your correct PPE and wear it properly, and you've got to have your isolated areas in place as well, and dispose of it properly. So the Queensland government website's got a publication on asbestos, a guide for minor renovations. It's a great document that shows you where asbestos is in the property. Now, if you've got asbestos and you've identified it in your property, you can manage it quite safely. If it's in good condition and it's painted, it presents a low risk. As soon as you start disturbing that asbestos, that's when you start creating risk for the tenants and the person who's disturbing the asbestos. So there's our website address, asbestos.queensland.gov.au. So just finally, again, there's a great video on the asbestos website on high pressure spraying of roofs. If you need to repaint your roof, get a qualified painter to come in. You do not high pressure spray to clean it. We've got some methodologies on the website that teaches you how to deal with it effectively so it's low risk. So if you can see those three houses on there, and the middle one's got an asbestos roof. If you high pressure spray that roof, it'll cover your yard plus all the neighbor's yards. And it costs upwards to $80,000 to $100,000 to get that fixed, to clean up all the asbestos contamination. So now we're onto the Q&A. Thank you.
- Thank you very much. I'll let John come and join us. So if you've got any questions, please put them in the chat. We do have a couple that have come through, and John's information is really, really key. If you want more information about asbestos, please jump on our website. There's a plethora of information there that you can certainly use. So our first question is to you, Stacey and Mark. If you're looking for an RCM or the regulatory compliance mark, where do I look, on the box or on the product itself?
- I have seen them on the box. So if you often go to buy a product, a lot of companies will put it quite large on the box to identify that it has an RCM mark. But if you're looking specifically at the equipment, so you say the equipment's been there for ages, you don't know where the box has gone, you'll find there's nameplate data, so there's like a sticker on the actual piece of equipment, and it's got a whole heap of different information about the test that's happened with that piece of equipment, and that's where you'll see that RCM mark. It's small, but because of the way they've done it with that bold circle and the tick, it stands out, so you will see it. Stacey?
- Yeah. And it is really small. I recently purchased a toaster and looked for it now that I know about the RCM mark. It is really small. And like Mark said, don't mistake it for another symbol. You can see other certification schemes for products, et cetera, that might have five ticks or a tick. It is the triangle with the circle with the tick, that's what you need to look for.
- It's where it got a little bit confusing, because that nameplate data's got so much information on it. Even, this is before the Act, it was so difficult just to identify, for us even go, where's even the certification number here? And 'cause there'll be a certification number for say, electronics, there'll be a certification number for all different reasons with that piece. So it's a power supply for that piece of equipment. So yeah, I think the RCM is just going in a good direction to go, here it is, it's compliant. And then you can see it quite easily.
- Thank you. So question to you, Julie and Don from Warwick. Thanks for sharing your story. If you suspect you have been exposed to asbestos, what should they do?
- Yeah, well, Julie and I were in the same room as Adam, and we would be exposed the same as Adam. We don't know. There's nothing can really tell you for sure whether you've been, whether you have it. It's only when things start happening is when you know that things that are on the wrong side of being well. Recently, we're part of a group that fundraises for asbestos and lung disease, in Queensland, through the Heart of Australia, has developed the first lung truck that they've been taking out to the mines. And just recently they've tested it in the mining town of Collinsville, and tested 700, or 79, sorry. And 30% were found, 30% of the people that were found to have some sort of lung condition. And they were able to pick up early stages of cancer in three people. And it's that early capture of acknowledging that there is something happening in your lungs or your body that helps with the recovery from cancer.
- I suppose what you can also do is document where you think you were exposed, when and how. There's asbestos associations and physicians that specialize in helping you get through that and what details you need to give them as for exposure, longevity, what could happen, how it would all work from there. So I would think that would be one of the first things. And then just being diligent with your own health. And like Don said, we don't really know. It could happen to us at any time. So you just need to be aware. That's what we're trying to prevent.
- Thank you. Some great tips and a great message there. We have one for you, John, from Julie. As a landlord, should the property have an asbestos register?
- I would highly recommend that there is an asbestos register for your property. Your tenants are going to want to hang photos. They're going to want to do some things themselves. You're going to send tradesman to your property. So you want to make sure there's no accidental disturbance to the asbestos on your rental property. And what I did forget to mention during my presentation was if you suspect it's asbestos, it doesn't cost much, get a sample. There's information on the Queensland government website how to safely take samples, and take them into a NATA-accredited laboratory, and they'll be able to tell you quite quickly whether that material is asbestos or not.
- Thank you. It's been a great sharing of questions today. So Sean, one from Chloe. Following Karen's incident, what changes has the landlord made to that property?
- Yeah. Okay, quick story to make a point. The power point that she plugged the appliance into was recent, or had been installed in more recent years and should've been protected by a safety switch. So I guess there were no safety switches there. After we lost her, they spent a hundred bucks or so, put a safety switch in. We still lost her. Would've been great to have had it there in the first place.
- A hundred dollars isn't a lot of money, is it?
- When you are weighing it up against the cost of a hundred dollars and a life, it, yeah. Look, we did go over time today, and I really appreciate, and again, thank you all for joining us. If there is just five things that you can take away from today that you can use to educate and talk to your family, talk to your workers, talk to your loved ones, and talk to your property managers in the industry, it's only use licensed electricians. Look at your switchboards. One safety switch is not enough. You need a safety switch on all circuits. You need to have a maintenance schedule for your electrical equipment and for testing of your safety switches. Make sure those things are happening. And always check that your electrical equipment is safe. Look for that RCM. Make sure it's compliant to Australian standards, not to another less higher standard from a different country. And know if your property has asbestos in it, and have a plan about how you're going to work with asbestos in your home or in your tenant's home, and make sure that you can manage it appropriately with people that are coming in and out. If you can raise these issues with your neighbors, your friends, your workmates, like I said earlier, education is knowledge, and knowledge is power. For more information, you can certainly go to our website. And thank you again for joining us today as our last event for Electrical Safety Week, "Work Safe, Home Safe." Thank you.
Donna Heelan, Electrical Safety Office
The loss of Kerryn – a sister, daughter and friend
Sean O’Connor, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s consultative committee for work-related fatalities and serious incidents
Losing breath – The Adam Sager story
Don and Julie Sager, Safety Advocates
Asbestos safety in rental properties
MC and event close
*Program subject to change