WorkSafe WA recently issued a safety alert after it identified instances where demolition work was conducted without first removing asbestos-containing materials.
Recently, workers may have been exposed to asbestos while carrying out demolition work on a residential building.
The workers examined the building prior to commencing the demolition and noted the presence of fibre cement sheeting on the dwelling and an attached garage.
This material was not deemed to be asbestos cement and the workers proceeded to demolish the building using an excavator.
While demolishing the bathroom, asbestos cement material that had been concealed by tiles and the bath was uncovered.
At this time, the material was not identified as containing asbestos and it was then broken up by the excavator and distributed through the rubble in that area of the property. Safe work procedures for the removal of asbestos were not in place.
Asbestos was subsequently identified in the rubble and the demolition was stopped.
The workers manually removed the asbestos cement fragments using procedures for handling asbestos containing material, with the area requiring significant remediation to remove the asbestos containing material. Failure to remove contamination fully can lead to the requirement for specialised, high cost remedial work.
WorkSafe is currently focussing on non-compliant asbestos removal. Enforcement options include suspension or loss of an asbestos removal licence, or other enforcement action as outlined in WorkSafe’s enforcement policy.
The alert subsequently recommended a number of required actions: