ACT Construction Workers years of Asbestos Exposure

Yet another asbestos related scandal has hit the news, this time relating to Mr Fluffy Asbestos used extensively in housing in the seventies.

According to reports a former electrician who worked in Canberra in the residential construction sector in the 1970s has raised concerns that hundreds of tradies may have been unexpectedly and unknowingly exposed to asbestos from this product (Mr Fluffy). The ACT CFMEU is afraid that this product may still present a threat to workers who enter homes and commercial buildings today. They have demanded an audit to determine the extent of the contamination and the risk to current workers.

This article from explains:

And the ACT CFMEU says asbestos -including the ”fairy floss” amosite insulation – was a daily concern for workers in the ACT going into houses and commercial buildings.

Secretary Dean Hall has called for an audit to be undertaken on all commercial premises built before 2003 to confirm that the required asbestos management plan has been completed.

The Canberra Times revealed on Thursday that while the ACT government was spending $2 million deconstructing a home in Downer, there had been no investigation into the commercial buildings that could still contain the dangerous substance. Non-residential buildings were not surveyed along with houses built before 1980 under the loose-fill asbestos removal program carried out by the Commonwealth then ACT governments.

Mr Hall said while experienced builders and tradespeople knew about the general risk of asbestos, the union was finding that younger workers, commonly apprentices, were not aware of the dangers.

But he said the risk was potentially in every building.

”On a daily basis we have reports of people who have inadvertently exposed asbestos,” he said.

Read more at:

The CFMEU has called for an audit to be conducted on buildings erected after 2003, which is the year that the deadly substance was banned in Australia. Amosite asbestos is more commonly referred to as “brown” asbestos and sometimes “grey” asbestos. This form of asbestos was found and is mined in South Africa and is considered to be one of the more hazardous forms of the material, second only to “blue” asbestos.

According to a veteran of the construction industry, Sydney resident Arthur Carruthers, it was common for tradies to crawl into roof spaces and walk through loose infill installation in many homes in Sydney without taking any precautions against this hazard.

He also recalls removing roof tiles to allow light to enter the work area where millions of fibres could be seen in the light shaft according to Carruthers. According to Carruthers it was common knowledge that insulation was composed of asbestos although they weren’t fully aware of the risks they were placing themselves in.

Only in the early eighties was the use of amosite asbestos banned in Oz and only 8 years later did the Commonwealth conduct its asbestos survey in ACT.


Picture of Amosite Asbestos shows how the fibres look, thin threads of deadly fibres.



Posted by Construction Safety News Admin
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