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NSW WorkCover Can Issue Spot Fines on Asbestos

From today, WorkCover NSW safety inspectors will have new powers to issue on the spot fines to any individual or business that appoints an unlicensed asbestos removalist.

The fines, which range from $720 for individuals to $3,600 for businesses, are designed to prevent unlicensed removalists putting workers and the community’s lives in danger.

Executive Director of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division, Peter Dunphy said with many Australians expected to be affected by asbestos-related disease in the coming decades WorkCover was doing everything it could to prevent workers and residents being exposed to the deadly fibres.

“Asbestos can be found in any property built or renovated before 1987 and one in three Australian homes are believed to contain asbestos,” Mr Dunphy said.

“In NSW there are rigorous legal and safety requirements for the management of asbestos.

“Any business or individual that commissions the removal of asbestos must ensure the work is done by a removalist who is appropriately licensed by WorkCover NSW.

“From today, we have strengthened asbestos safety laws, giving WorkCover NSW inspectors the power to issue penalty notices which include on the spot fines to individuals and businesses that engage unlicensed asbestos removalists or fail to notify WorkCover of licensed asbestos removal work.

“These new powers will ensure licensed asbestos work in NSW is carried out safely and that the risk of exposure to workers and other people is minimised.”

The control of asbestos in NSW workplaces is regulated under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011. The code of practice How to manage and control asbestos in the workplace provides information on the control measures that can be used.

There are two classes of asbestos removal licences in NSW. A ‘Class A’ asbestos removal licence enables the licence holder to undertake friable asbestos removal work and a ‘Class B’ licence enables the licence holder to undertake bonded asbestos removal work.

“To make it easier for businesses and home owners commissioning asbestos removal work, we’ve published a database on the WorkCover website of licensed asbestos removalists across the State,” Mr Dunphy said.