Is it the 21st Century or the 20th Century re Asbestos?

Megan LeNoir 20th July 2016

Hot off the press is the topic of;

Installed ‘Roof Panels at the new (yet to open) Perth Children’s Hospital have been found to contain white asbestos (chrysotile).

This subject is being discussed in many forums and quite frankly is very concerning. Guy very eloquently described his viewpoint on the subject on the SOS Facebook page the other day. Guy has always been concerned not just about the worker but also the effect work has on the worker’s family. This situation is no different.

Workers who worked on this product allegedly were covered in dust from sawing, cutting and drilling the panels after installation. These clothes have gone back home to be washed and members of families could possibly be affected. This issue is appalling and demonstrates inadequate management. We have known about this issue (non-compliant building products coming from China) for so long, yet still in 2016 a piece of paper is trusted and relied on. Anything from China building products should be considered as contaminated unless a third party laboratory has issued a certificate of compliance. Question the methodology for sampling! Was it just one sample? Let’s see if Worksafe have any balls. This is an absolute disgrace. If there were independent verifiers or certifiers on this site, questions need to go back to them too. Any building products should be subject to an ITP (Inspection Test Plan). We have had crap coming out of that country for years…act on it….so much for trying to do things cheaply, you have possibly affected workers and their families and other establishments these people visited before changing clothes.

A few other points of interest:

  • It is interesting to note that WA Builders were warned last year not to trust overseas certifications that imported products were free of asbestos.
  • Last August, WA’s Department of Commerce urged builders to be vigilant and do their own testing to verify materials were safe.
  • This follows a warning from the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency that a wide range of imported materials used in Australia’s building industry contained asbestos.

Back in February 2016 Federal Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton ordered an independent review of Australia’s asbestos border control management. The review has been completed, but the report has been kept confidential. Is there a reason why?

This issue is not just related to big businesses. This relates to all builders / importers of building products. For example, owner-builders are more vulnerable to ‘shonky’ imported materials as they may not have the required resources to check the compliance of their goods. The Master Builders Associate of WA identified back in 2014.

  • An owner-builder in NSW purchased a flat-packed shed from China via the internet. It was later confirmed to contain chrysotile asbestos.

Because of the internet and global accessibility builders and members of the public are accessing products from all over the world.

A question that needs to be asked is; Do we know and understand the real costs (not just monetary) to society in relation to disease / cancer associated with asbestos?

Please see the links below to access relevant information about this next generation of asbestos issues.