SafeWork South Australia has released their annual report on licensed asbestos removal practices following compliance audits throughout the year.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the largest area of non-compliance during the auditing period related to respiratory protective equipment not being appropriately fit-tested on workers. These tests are critical for creating a seal and ensuring protection against airborne asbestos fibres.
SafeWork SA’s records for asbestos-related interventions or investigations throughout 2020 were used during the compilation of the Asbestos Activity 2020 Health and Safety Snapshot.
Across 2021, the compliance campaign took place across May through to July. There were 48 audits conducted, of which 28% were licensed asbestos removalists, and 33% were sites that required a building asbestos register.
Within those 48 audits, 21 statutory notices were issued, including seven prohibition notices and 14 improvement notices. One asbestos removalist license (Class B) was cancelled, and one asbestos assessor was suspended from providing professional services.
Martyn Campbell, SafeWork SA Executive Director, said that failures in asbestos safety, particularly respirator fit testing, placed workers at risk.
“The negative health impacts associated with inhaling airborne asbestos fibres are well known, and continued non-compliance towards their removal workers may lead to licence suspensions, cancellations or prosecution.
“The results are disappointing as licensed asbestos removalists should have a sound understanding of the asbestos legislation and related codes of practice”, said Mr Campbell.