05/09/2006 - 22:00

Asbestos removal review

05/09/2006 - 22:00

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The WA Commission for Occupational Safety and Health is proposing a tightening of regulations concerning the removal of asbestos by lowering the amount of asbestos that can be removed from a site without a licence.

The WA Commission for Occupational Safety and Health is proposing a tightening of regulations concerning the removal of asbestos by lowering the amount of asbestos that can be removed from a site without a licence.

Chair Tony Cooke said the commission had concerns about the potential for serious health effects from exposure to asbestos-containing materials, where safety precautions were not followed.

“Because of these concerns, the commission is considering recommending stronger controls on the removal of asbestos cement sheeting, with the proposal being to require licensing for all removal of 10 or more square metres of asbestos cement material,” Mr Cooke said.

A licence is not currently required unless more than 200sq m of asbestos cement roofing material is being removed, or thermal or acoustic products are involved.

A commission discussion paper released in June on the issue encouraged submissions from industry representatives and community members.

Housing Industry Association (WA) executive director John Dastlik said asbestos posed a severe health and safety risk and a reform of the regulations would be worthwhile if it resulted in safer working environments.

However, Mr Dastlik warned that adding more regulation to home builders would only add to the cost impost on consumers.

“Registration does not fix all the problems. If health and safety is a priority then there should be more education for those who are working with the materials,” he said.

Master Builders Association (WA) occupational safety and health manager Michael Fitzgerald said simply altering licensing requirements would not make people act more safely.

‘Rather than spend time, money and resources on compliance, Work-Safe must get out there and make people do the right thing,” he said.

All people removing asbestos, including demolition contractors, already work under the same Australian code of practice, with home builders paying up to $3,500 for an Asbestos Removal Licence, which is valid for two years.

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