Wednesday 30 May 2012

Prosecution After Dodgy Asbestos Removal

An unlicensed asbestos removalist has been convicted and fined $13,250 for arranging unlicensed asbestos removal, his second offence in two years.

In November 2010, Geelong-based Joshua Luke Marshall, operating as Affordable Demolitions and Asbestos Removals, told a renovation company he was licensed by WorkSafe to carry out asbestos removal at an Anglesea property, although he didn’t hold a licence.

In the Geelong Magistrate’s Court today, Mr Marshall was convicted and fined under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007.

The incident which led to today’s prosecution came two weeks after he was prosecuted a first time, for similar offences.

For that matter, Mr Marshall was convicted on two charges and fined $35,400 after a WorkSafe inspector caught him doing unlicensed work.

WorkSafe’s General Manager of Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger, said the penalties were significant and the courts took workplace safety issues seriously, particularly when there had been prior offences.

“If you have been dealt with by the courts once, they and the community expect you to learn a lesson and take action to avoid a repeat offence.

“It is disappointing that we have had to take action on so many occasions with companies and individuals which should know better.  

“This is particularly the case with asbestos which has known health risks and requires people dealing with it to have appropriate skills and understanding.

“Dealing with safety issues is an investment in the business and your people. Get it right and many problems and avoidable business costs are avoided," she said.

Ms Sturzenegger said other businesses and home-owners looking to hire an asbestos removalist should check their credentials.

“If you’re hiring someone to do asbestos removal work, make sure you see their licence or contact WorkSafe to ensure they’re licensed. Don’t just take their word for it. 

“There are people out there trying to make a quick buck and it’s often by putting themselves and others at risk.

“This prosecution isn’t just about safety – we want the asbestos removal industry to operate on a level playing field.

“Removalists who are licensed and operate safely shouldn’t be undercut by people like Mr Marshall,” she said.

Information on licensed asbestos removalists can be found on WorkSafe’s website, www.worksafe.vic.gov.au or by calling 1800 136 089. 

Information on requirements for asbestos removal:

In most cases, asbestos removal must be done by a removalist licensed by WorkSafe, or trained employees of a licence-holder.

Class B licence-holders are only permitted to remove non-friable asbestos such as asbestos cement sheet, eves or pipe; and must comply with a number of requirements. These include appointing a supervisor to oversee work, using specific methods for removal, waste containment and waste disposal, using signs and barricades, and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.

Class A licence-holders are permitted to remove higher-risk friable and non-friable asbestos. They must comply with the same requirements outlined above for Class B licence holders, but must also implement a range of specific measures to carry out the work safely and control the risk, including using enclosures and always having the nominated supervisor on site.

Removing asbestos without a license: In very limited circumstances, some asbestos may be removed without a licence if done so safely. This is possible if the area of asbestos-containing material does not exceed 10 square metres in total, and the total time spent by the employer on any removal work (including their employees) is less than one hour over the space of any seven days.

Further Information

WorkSafe media enquiries: Rosanna Bonaccurso 0478 305 640

Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email info@worksafe.vic.gov.au or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.