WorkSafe Victoria records uptick in asbestos prosecutions

WorkSafe Victoria records uptick in asbestos prosecutions

WorkSafe Victoria remains committed to cracking down on legislative requirements regarding asbestos safety in the workplace, as the safety organisation records its eighth prosecution for asbestos mismanagement since 2019, with three recorded this year since April.

In one prosecution which took place in October, Carton Finishing was fined $20,000 for installing insulation material in machinery which was found to contain asbestos.

WorkSafe conducted more than 1,400 asbestos-related visits to Victorian businesses in the financial year to June 2022.

Narelle Beer, the executive director of WorkSafe, said that employers have “no excuse” for exposing employees to asbestos and its associated risks.

“The deadly risk of exposure to asbestos dust has been known for more than 30 years,” Dr Beer said.

“It’s deplorable that workers continue to be needlessly exposed to this silent killer.”

“There is no excuse for employers who expose their workers to friable asbestos and WorkSafe will continue to prosecute those who do to the full extent of the law.”

Victoria’s maximum penalty for asbestos exposure could constitute workplace manslaughter after changes to legislation earlier this year came into effect. The offence carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment for individuals or PCBUs, and $18.5 million for body corporates.

Exposure to asbestos remains a significant concern for safety regulators and enforcers across the country, with Australia having an unenviable record of one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world, with between 700-800 people diagnosed annually.

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