SafeWork SA issues OHS warning on asbestos disposal

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Sunday, 20 November, 2022 - 12:30
Industry news
South Australia

An estimated 4000 Australians die annually from asbestos-related diseases and home occupiers and tradespeople need to be more careful when it comes to asbestos disposal, according to SafeWork SA.

Asbestos is present in one in three Australian homes as well as public and commercial buildings, while deaths from asbestos-related diseases in Australia each year are nearly four times greater that the annual road toll.

Martyn Campbell, executive director of SafeWork SA and Chair of the South Australian Asbestos Action Plan (SA AAP) said Asbestos Awareness Week (which runs from 21-27 November) is the time to commit to elimination of asbestos-related diseases in Australia.

“Australia still has one of the highest death rates of asbestos-related diseases per capita in the world,” he said.

“We have a responsibility to protect the long-term future health of South Australian residents. Regulators, government departments, industry, workers, organisations and the community at large will all need to work together to make the state safe from asbestos.”

The theme of Asbestos Awareness Week in 2022 is Think Twice About Asbestos and targets home occupiers and tradespeople to do things the right way by ensuring proper and lawful disposal of asbestos.

The 2021 Asbestos Snapshot found that residential properties accounted for about 65 per cent of South Australian removals with Adelaide, Modbury, Woodville, Whyalla and Salisbury being the localities with the highest number of removal notifications.

In 2021, SafeWork SA received 6310 asbestos removal notifications, which is an 8 per cent increase in notifications compared to the previous year.

“Illegally dumped asbestos puts an unnecessary strain on public resources; resources that could be better spent on other vital community services,” said Campbell.