WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a reminder to employers to play it safe when dealing with material that contains asbestos and to ensure they are meeting their legal obligations.
Employers are legally required to identify any asbestos-containing material in a workplace. Asbestos removal licence holders are required to notify WorkSafe prior to any removal works, display appropriate signage, and ensure workers are wearing personal protective equipment during its removal.
Employers must also arrange medical examinations for all workers engaged in ongoing asbestos-related activities where there is a risk of exposure to airborne asbestos fibres in excess of the exposure standard.
Licensed asbestos removalists must arrange medical checks for all workers tasked with asbestos removal.
Asbestos Awareness Week, which runs from 21 to 27 November this year, carries the theme ‘think twice about asbestos’ and asks businesses to “do it the right way” by ensuring the proper and lawful disposal of asbestos-containing material.
Despite the dangers, WorkSafe continues to catch employers flouting the rules, and recent asbestos-related prosecutions include:
WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety Narelle Beer said asbestos-containing material remained a significant safety risk.
“Asbestos Awareness Week is a time for employers to take stock of their obligations regarding asbestos and ensure they are not putting any workers or members of the public at risk,” Beer said.
“The ramifications for not following the rules can include serious disease or even death, which is why WorkSafe regularly conducts proactive asbestos inspections.”
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