The Guardian 14 February, 2007

"WorkSafe" Victoria clueless on asbestos

The Victorian Trades Hall Council is alarmed with the draft asbestos regulations released for public comment by WorkSafe Victoria. Unions are staggered that WorkSafe doesn’t seem to be able to see that it can be harmful to breathe in asbestos dust or powder.

"Just like NSW, we need to have powder included in our definition of ‘friable asbestos’", said Brian Boyd, Secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council. ["Friable" means "easily crumbled or turned into dust"]

He said employers must not be able to direct cleaners and other workers to clean up asbestos contaminated dust and debris — the risks are too great. He warned that class B removalists must not be allowed to clear up any amount of dust — other than that generated by their own non-friable removal work.

Unions are taking briefing papers to meetings with OH&S representatives and other members over the next three weeks and plan to flood WorkSafe with comments about this issue.

"We are surprised that WorkSafe does not see that if the current proposed regulation goes ahead, thousands of people will be exposed to asbestos dust", said Mr Boyd.

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