Asbestos assessment fast-tracked for flood-damaged properties

Date: Apr 19, 2017

The NSW government is moving fast to tackle potential asbestos threats in flood-damaged properties across the north-east of the state.

Earlier this month, SafeWork NSW announced it would fast-track asbestos assessments on homes to see whether the hazardous material was a risk to residents.

There is typically a five-day asbestos removal work notification period in place for such tasks, but the organisation said it was waiving the practice in order to clean up any asbestos debris in flood-affected areas.

Ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie caused significant rainfall in north-east regions of the state late last month, with the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) issuing evacuation orders that impacted more than 31,000 people at the flood’s peak.

SafeWork NSW said properties in the Kyogle, Ballina, Lismore, Byron Shire and Tweed local government areas would receive the expedited asbestos assessments to ensure exposure is minimised.

Understanding asbestos risks

Peter Dunphy, the organisation’s executive director, advised locals to research asbestos risks and learn how to safely manage the dangerous substance when cleaning up natural disasters.

“Flood-affected homes may contain asbestos materials which need to be safely managed and removed so that the health of the community is protected,” he explained.

“As the SES assesses the damage and residents begin to clean-up or repair properties, we want them to be aware of the dangers.”

Asbestos exposure can lead to a number of dangerous diseases, including asbestosis and mesothelioma. People who develop these illnesses during the course of their employment can claim compensation if they show on a balance of probabilities that they fell ill due to workplace asbestos exposure.

Traditionally, the most common jobs where asbestos is encountered include construction, firefighting and industrial factory work.

Protecting against asbestos

SafeWork NSW has advised anyone cleaning up storm-affected areas in NSW to follow a number of recommendations regarding asbestos management:

  • Avoid disturbing asbestos materials;
  • Keep asbestos debris wet until removal;
  • Contact only qualified asbestos removalists who have SafeWork licences; and
  • Be aware of asbestos in the surroundings.

“Given the significance of the natural disaster and the need to urgently remove material that may affect the health of the community, we have prioritised these assessments,” Mr Dunphy stated.

“We hope this decision will help people to get their lives back to normal sooner.”

Would you like to know more about asbestos-related compensation in NSW? Please contact one of our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.