White Card Update: Asbestos Dumped near Childcare Centre

Yet another asbestos related incident has taken place in Sydney, this time near a childcare centre. A utility vehicle full of asbestos has been discovered and cleaned up after it was illegally dumped.

Police discovered the material while patrolling the area early on Friday morning in Watson Street, Belmore in the south west of the city. The site where the asbestos was dumped is near to a childcare centre and a primary school.

The public is reminded that asbestos can be deadly especially if it becomes airborne. Continuous exposure can result in life threatening illness. The danger of asbestos is often heightened by its inhalation.

The asbestos had to be treated and removed by Fire and Rescue NSW and local council officers. A Canterbury City Council confirmed that the asbestos was fully removed by 11:30am.

This is not the only asbestos discovery in Sydney, a similar incident occurred on the Sydney Harbour Bridge where workers walked off the site after discovering asbestos had been dumped illegally.

This post from News.ninemsn.com.au explains what happened:

Parents, including federal environment minister Tony Burke, were shocked at the dumping.

“Just as I walked out the door I heard that not only that there’d been a dumping of asbestos but that it had been in front of my child’s school,” Mr Burke told the Seven Network.

Another parent described the sight as “disgusting”.

At a separate incident on Thursday, up to 40 Sydney Harbour Bridge workers walked off the job over concerns two apprentices were exposed to asbestos on the iconic structure.

The contractors were on the bridge to do plumbing work, the union said.

Source: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/2013/06/14/07/29/asbestos-dumped-on-sydney-street

If asbestos containing material is identified in a workplace, the responsible person must ensure the associated risks are assessed in consultation with workers and/or their health and safety representatives.  This applies to all asbestos containing materials.

The main purpose of the risk assessment is to enable informed decisions to be made about control measures, induction and training, air monitoring and health surveillance requirements.

Risk assessments need to be done by competent persons who have been trained to do so.  Decisions about control measures to protect workers will depend on the assessed risks to health.

CFMEU safety co-ordinator Michael Preston was called to the site on the Sydney Harbour Bridge near the southern pylon of the bridge yesterday after one worker noticed the pile of exposed asbestos.  He arrived at the site to find open pieces of asbestos lying in the bin and workers taping up the rest. He reminded people that asbestos especially once it is airborne is life threatening and causes lung diseases which reveal themselves only years after exposure. The situation should have been handled much differently as Mr Preston went on to point out.

Once asbestos is discovered on a site especially if is an unexpected discovery, an exclusion zone should be immediately set up to keep workers away from the danger of inhaling the deadly fibres. Workers should not be tasked with removing asbestos unless they are qualified to do so. Specialist workers with appropriate PPE need to be called in to remove the waste safely.

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