A specialist demolition company has appeared in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court, facing six charges under the WHS Regulations for improper removal of asbestos-containing material.
The charges relate to work the company was contracted to undertake in Toowoomba, which involved demolishing a home that contained asbestos. The asbestos was not removed safely from the building prior to the demolition work commencing.
An excavator was used to demolish the structure and the asbestos-containing material was piled up at various points at the site. According to inspectors from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, the material was found as not properly contained, and had been marked as requiring removal before demolishing work began.
There was also no use of ‘asbestos removal’ signage, no asbestos removal control plan and nearby property owners were not informed that the work was commencing. Inspectors believed that ‘limited’ effort was made to remove any asbestos-containing material or put control measures in place to prevent the dispersal of material.
Magistrate Ryan, who highlighted that the defendant was a licensed asbestos removalist, who knew the safety requirements, explained that the regulation surrounding its removal is there to prevent ‘devastating’ effects for those who acquire a related illness, including the men undertaking the work at the site.
She explained that the onus was upon all three defendants to keep the site safe. When considering sentencing, she took into account an early guilty plea, and no previous convictions, noting that the men were no longer engaged in asbestos removal works and were moving towards deregistering that section of their business.
The company was fined $8,000 plus court costs of over $1,000, while the two directors were fined $4,000 each. Both men advised the court that due to the financial and health ramifications of the proceedings, they were no longer working in asbestos removal.