Master Builders Australia NATIONAL ASBESTOS MANAGEMENT CONTROL AND REMOVAL POLICY

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1 Master Builders Australia NATIONAL ASBESTOS MANAGEMENT CONTROL AND REMOVAL POLICY 2013

2 Master Builders Australia Limited Master Builders Australia Limited ABN Level 1, 16 Bentham Street (PO Box 7170), YARRALUMLA ACT 2600 T: , F: , This policy is copyright and all rights are reserved. No part of it may be reproduced, stored, transmitted or otherwise distributed, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. Images on the cover are winners of 2011 Master Builders National Excellence in Building and Construction Awards.

3 C O N T E N T S List of Recommendations for National Asbestos Management Control and Removal Policy i 1 Introduction Eradication of asbestos Disposal of asbestos National asbestos exposure register Domestic premises Conclusion... 8

4 LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NATIONAL ASBESTOS MANAGEMENT CONTROL AND REMOVAL POLICY 2013 Recommendation 1. Master Builders recommends that the existing regulation of asbestos management, control and removal across jurisdictions should be maintained and enforced as it already provides a realistic and adequate framework for the gradual removal of asbestos containing materials from all premises (government, commercial and domestic). Recommendation 2. Master Builders recommends that a nationally consistent asbestos disposal fee be established to discourage illegal dumping of asbestos as well as increased penalties for those found guilty of illegally dumping asbestos. Recommendation 3. Master Builders recommends that it becomes a requirement for employers to be given a notification of the national asbestos exposure registration, in writing, as soon as one of their past or present employees submits it and that employers should be informed of their right to contest any registrations. Recommendation 4. Master Builders recommends that in all non-occupational situations the removal of asbestos should only be permitted to be carried out by a person licensed to remove asbestos. Recommendation 5. Master Builders recommends that statutory requirements for training for identification and working with asbestos should be replicated for owner builders. Recommendation 6. Master Builders recommends that education should encourage home owners who plan to renovate a pre-1990 home to engage a licensed asbestos removalist to identify and, if required, remove asbestos from the home. i

5 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 Master Builders supports the introduction of best practice for asbestos management, control and removal. 1.2 Currently, 600 Australians are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year. 1 The number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related conditions is rising (see Table 1) with the number of people diagnosed with asbestos related diseases expected to peak in By then it is estimated that there will be up to 40,000 cases of asbestos-related disease. 2 Master Builders supports action to alleviate this burden on the community s health. Table Asbestos-related diseases are moving away from heavy exposures (involving direct contact with airborne asbestos fibres during the mining, milling and manufacture of asbestos containing materials) to diseases resulting from exposures during the abatement of loose asbestos and the use and removal of asbestos containing materials. 3 1 Comcare, Asbestos safety and prevention, and prevention/your_working_environment/asbestos, accessed 26 July J Leigh, P Davidson, L Hendrie and D Berry, Malignant mesothelioma in Australia ' (2002) 41 American Journal of Industrial Medicine, D Bromwich, The 2005 Australian asbestos codes of practice: an occupational hygiene perspective (2006) 5 Journal of Occupational Health and Safety 464.

6 1.4 The occupations that account for the greatest number of mesothelioma cases have changed over the years from miners/millers, product manufacturers and insulation workers to other end-users of asbestos-containing materials, in particular workers in the building and construction industry and in shipyards. 4 Although the level of individual risk is lower for such end-users, the higher number of workers in building and construction means that these workers contribute greater absolute numbers to the national mesothelioma toll This trend is confirmed by recent workers compensation statistics which show that for the period to , 33 per cent of all compensated fatalities in the building and construction industry were related to exposure to asbestos Master Builders is committed to reducing the incidence rate for serious claims and fatalities in the building and construction industry. One of the strategic priorities is to prevent occupational disease more effectively. Master Builders therefore supports the establishment of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (the Agency) as well as the How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace Code of Practice and the How to Safely Remove Asbestos Code of Practice, 7 and has done so from the time of their introduction. 2 ERADICATION OF ASBESTOS 2.1 The Australian Government s Asbestos Management Review 8 made a recommendation that the National Strategic Plan provide for the development of systems and processes which would result in the staged removal of all ACMs from government and commercial buildings and structures by a target date of This is further detailed in Strategy Four: Removal in the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management (the Plan). The Agency has the task of implementing this Plan. Master Builders supports existing programs to remove asbestos but does not support that part of the Plan which endorses wholesale removal of asbestos no matter its condition. Programmed staged 4 J Leigh and D Henderson, The epidemiology of malignant mesothelioma (2006) 5 Journal of Occupational Health and Safety 441, Ibid. 6 Safe Work Australia National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistics, Work Health and Safety Statistics Report- Compensated Fatalities. There were 478 fatalities in this period, 159 of which were related to asbestos exposure. Of the 159 fatalities, 119 were as a result of Mesothelioma and 40 from Asbestosis. 7 Safe Work Australia, How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace Code of Practice, December 2011 and How to Safely Remove Asbestos Code of Practice, December Australian Government, Asbestos Management Review Report, June Ibid, p Australian Government, National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management , July 2013, p 16. 2

7 removal would create unnecessary risks to workers involved in the removal, transport and disposal of the asbestos and to the public; the scheme would be costly to implement and is generally not practical because of the scale of work required. 2.2 The risks posed by asbestos depend on the nature and condition of the materials and the potential for exposure. Left undisturbed, non-friable bonded asbestos material in good condition does not pose a risk to health. As the How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace Code of Practice makes clear, although the ultimate goal of this prohibition is for all workplaces to be free of asbestos, it is only when these materials are being replaced or where they present a health risk that non-asbestos alternatives must be used. 11 Given the large number of buildings which contain asbestos material, a national program of removal would also create a significant disposal issue as there are limited designated asbestos disposal sites, which would create a risk of illegal disposal, particularly when coupled with high fees and charges for disposal. 2.3 Master Builders preferred approach is that non-friable asbestos be left in situ and wherever possible should not be disturbed. Where there is a risk of deterioration of the asbestos material (for example weathering of asbestos roofing) Master Builders recommends that the non-friable asbestos containing material only be removed by a licensed removalist using procedures as outlined in the How to Safely Remove Asbestos Code of Practice. The removal of asbestos containing materials during renovations or when the material has deteriorated will see the amount of asbestos in the community reduce over time. This corresponds with the aspirational goal of the removal of asbestos from the built environment proposed by the Master Builders board. Recommendation 1 Master Builders recommends that the existing regulation of asbestos management, control and removal across jurisdictions should be maintained and enforced as it already provides a realistic and adequate framework for the gradual removal of asbestos containing materials from all premises (government, commercial and domestic). 11 Safe Work Australia, How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace Code of Practice, p 4. 3

8 3 DISPOSAL OF ASBESTOS 3.1 The availability of asbestos disposal sites varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, in Victoria there are 30 asbestos waste disposal sites, which are located in both metropolitan and regional areas. In New South Wales there are many landfill facilities in both metropolitan and regional areas that accept asbestos waste - both from householders and commercial operators. However, in the Northern Territory there is only one waste disposal site that accepts asbestos waste. 3.2 It should be noted, however, that the availability of asbestos disposal sites does not necessarily prevent illegal dumping. For example, in Victoria, as noted above, there are asbestos waste disposal facilities in 30 locations including Fyansford in Geelong. This did not prevent the dumping of a significant quantity of asbestos waste at an illegal dump site in Geelong. The perpetrator of the illegal dump was successfully prosecuted and was ordered to pay $18, in EPA costs. 12 There is anecdotal evidence of illegal disposal of asbestos waste on many occasions. Of particular concern is that construction waste skips are being used to illegally dispose of asbestos waste especially in new estates The cost of disposing of asbestos may be one factor leading to inappropriate practices which place workers in the construction industry and the public at risk. The costs vary considerably from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and within jurisdictions. In Queensland some council waste disposal sites do not charge for the disposal of asbestos waste in order to discourage illegal asbestos dumping. Other council sites charge a significant fee. In 2010 the Carpentaria Shire Council charged a minimum fee of $450. Fees at this level may act as a disincentive for the proper disposal of asbestos, particularly by home owners seeking to dispose of a small amount of asbestos. Recommendation 2 Master Builders recommends that a nationally consistent asbestos disposal fee be established to discourage illegal dumping of asbestos as well as increased penalties for those found guilty of illegally dumping asbestos. 12 See the article on the Victorian EPA site which is available through the following link OpenDocument 13 For example: Amy Formosa, Deadly asbestos dumped in skip, The Morning Bulletin (online), 15 October 2009, 4

9 4 NATIONAL ASBESTOS EXPOSURE REGISTER 4.1 Master Builders notes the establishment of the national asbestos exposure register 14 but does not support the register in its current form. Currently, any worker who believes they have been exposed to asbestos is able to register their name, details of their employment, and how they believe they were exposed to asbestos by completing a form without any consultation with their employer. This raises the possibility of employers being faced with claims in the future without any knowledge of the potential exposure or the ability to contest the registration. 4.2 There should be a requirement for employers to be notified of registrations onto the register to enable the employer to risk manage the alleged asbestos exposure. For employers to meet their work health and safety duties, employees should report any hazards or incidents to their employer promptly. Master Builders recommends that it becomes a requirement for employers to be provided with a notification of the national asbestos exposure registration as soon as one of their past or present employees submits it. Registration should be contestable where a disagreement about alleged exposure occurs. Recommendation 3 Master Builders recommends that it becomes a requirement for employers to be given a notification of the national asbestos exposure registration, in writing, as soon as one of their past or present employees submits it and that employers should be informed of their right to contest any registrations. 5 DOMESTIC PREMISES 5.1 Home renovation is the largest non-occupational cause of malignant mesothelioma and of all known exposures home renovation is the leading cause of mesothelioma in women. 15 The rate of home renovation as the source of mesothelioma has risen from 3 per cent in the 1990s to 8 per cent in the period 2005 to 2008 in men and alarmingly from 5 per cent in the 1990s to 35 per cent in the period 2005 to 2008 in women. 16 It is thought that non-occupational exposure to asbestos (such as DIY home renovation) accounts for more mesothelioma diagnoses than exposure in an occupational setting (see Table 2). These figures are a guide only as it is difficult to 14 Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, National Asbestos Exposure Register, accessed 29 July Nola J Olsen, Peter J Franklin, et al, Increasing incidence of malignant mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos during home maintenance and renovation (2011) 5 Medical Journal of Australia 271, Ibid. 5

10 conclude where the exposure occurred due to the large lag between exposure and diagnoses. Table Most home owners buy a pre-existing house with the intention of making changes and do so soon after buying. Statistics in this area are sparse; however, a report produced in 2002 cited that over the 10 year period to 1999, two thirds of dwellings built between 1920 and 1949 had been renovated While Master Builders supports efforts to educate home owners about the risks of disturbing asbestos, Master Builders believes that the education should encourage home owners to engage appropriate experts to identify and, if required, remove asbestos rather than potentially creating risks to their health by undertaking the asbestos removal themselves. 5.4 Asbestos cannot be identified by sight, and the range of asbestos containing materials is surprisingly wide. For example, it is not well known that two types of floor covering may contain asbestos: vinyl floor tiles and fibre reinforced paper 17 Above n3, p467 6

11 backing for linoleum produced before Not many people would be aware that asbestos has also been used to reinforce some marble swimming pools Master Builders believes that owner builders should be required to undertake asbestos awareness training because of the growing incidence of non-occupational exposure to asbestos in this sector of the housing construction industry. Employers are required to provide awareness and handling training for workers under Regulation 445 of the model WHS Regulations and this should be replicated for owner builders. 5.6 Where a home owner wishes to undertake renovations, and the home owner suspects that the building may contain asbestos, they should seek expert advice before commencing renovations. Any work involving removal of asbestos in a nonoccupational setting, including under an owner builder permit, should only be permitted to be carried out by a person licensed to remove asbestos. Recommendation 4 Master Builders recommends that in all non-occupational situations the removal of asbestos should only be permitted to be carried out by a person licensed to remove asbestos. Recommendation 5 Master Builders recommends that statutory requirements for training for identification and working with asbestos should be replicated for owner builders. Recommendation 6 Master Builders recommends that education should encourage home owners who plan to renovate a pre-1990 home to engage a licensed asbestos removalist to identify and, if required, remove asbestos from the home. 18 Ibid, p467 7

12 6 CONCLUSION Master Builders is concerned about some of the policy decisions which have been focussed on the goal of the eradication of asbestos in government and commercial buildings by Master Builders does not view this as best practice as the removal of non-friable bonded asbestos in good condition increases the risk of exposure. Master Builders is committed to reducing the incidence rate for serious claims and fatalities in the building and construction industry, including by effectively preventing occupational diseases. Recommendations contained in this policy, if implemented, will assist in achieving these objectives. ****************** 8

Master Builders Australia NATIONAL ASBESTOS MANAGEMENT CONTROL AND REMOVAL POLICY

Master Builders Australia NATIONAL ASBESTOS MANAGEMENT CONTROL AND REMOVAL POLICY Master Builders Australia NATIONAL ASBESTOS MANAGEMENT CONTROL AND REMOVAL POLICY 2015 Master Builders Australia Limited 2015. Master Builders Australia Limited ABN 68 137 130 182 Level 1, 16 Bentham Street

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