Minister for Industrial Relations Grace Grace visited year 10 students at Kelvin Grove State College’s Trade Training Centre today, highlighting the importance of asbestos safety.
Ms Grace said Asbestos Awareness Week (19-25 November) was a chance to raise the risks of working with asbestos.
“These budding apprentices will be the next generation of tradies working on renovations, so it’s vital they are aware of the risks involved and what to do if they’re on a job and suspect a material contains asbestos,” Ms Grace said.
“There is no cure for mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and other horrible conditions that can be contracted from exposure to asbestos.
“So we need to warn everyone about the very real dangers – starting with students and apprentices, right through to experienced tradies and foremen.”
Ms Grace said workers have the right to speak up if they suspect asbestos on a work site.
“The Workplace Health and Safety Act and Regulations have strict requirements placed upon employers with respect to materials containing asbestos,” Ms Grace said.
“My advice to all workers, new and experienced, is to immediately contact Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) if they have any concerns about material that may contain asbestos.
“WHSQ has a dedicated Asbestos Unit, staffed by highly experienced inspectors and advisors who undertake compliance, enforcement and education on all matters relating to asbestos.”
Ms Grace said the Palaszczuk Government was determined to educate those involved in detecting and disposing of asbestos containing materials (ACM).
“To support councils regulating do-it-yourself work on ACM, under the Public Health Legislation, we trained 500 local council officers between 2014 and 2017 across Queensland,” Ms Grace said.
“This year, we’ll train another 60 council officers.”
Ms Grace said the Government was also determined to call out shonky builders who do the wrong thing.
“In the last 12 months, ten asbestos removal licences have been refused, cancelled, suspended or reviewed because of a history of poor asbestos removal practices,” Ms Grace said.
“In 2017, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland responded to ten high risk events, including six events where high pressure water was used to clean an asbestos roof, which caused a high risk of exposure to asbestos containing material.
“The clean-up costs and fines for these incidents alone totalled more than $100,000.”
As part of Asbestos Awareness Week, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has also hosted asbestos forums around the state, with three already staged in Brisbane and Rockhampton. Two more will be held in Townsville and Toowoomba.