Asbestos laws change

From June 1, 2010, business operators removing more than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos, including asbestos cement material, in a workplace will need to have completed an approved training course and hold an asbestos licence.WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne said the changes aimed to minimise the dangers of working with asbestos products.“There is still a large amount of asbestos in WA and we need to make sure that its removal is carried out only by workers who have the proper knowledge and skills to perform the task safely,” she said.According to WorkSafe, the changes are in compliance with the National Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos. Lyhne said while there was no health risk from asbestos cement products left undisturbed in buildings, there was a serious risk of exposure to asbestos fibres during the disturbance or removal of asbestos-containing materials unless basic safety precautions were followed.“Concerns have long existed about the potential for serious health effects from exposure to asbestos where these safety precautions are not followed,” she said.“Unfortunately, Western Australians have the sad legacy of Wittenoom to remind them of the potential hazards of asbestos.”WorkSafe will begin accepting applications for asbestos licences from March 1.

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