Govt proposes new national asbestos safety agency

Date: Mar 21, 2013

The Labor government has introduced new legislation this week to parliament which would see the creation of a new agency focused on the safe treatment of asbestos materials throughout the country.

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, announced to the public by minister for employment and workplace relations Bill Shorten yesterday (March 20), will be tasked with tackling what the minister calls “the worst industrial menace” facing Australians.

“It’s been almost a decade since asbestos was banned in this country and still, today, the dangers of this silent killer remain,” said Mr Shorten said in a statement.

He said that in the past asbestos had been used on a widespread basis in Australian industry, including in building and construction.

Despite the use of this dangerous material now being completely banned, it still exists in many homes and buildings.

That means that many people – including builders and workers performing alterations or repairs – still risk coming into contact with asbestos dust and fibres.

Exposure to these dangerous particles can cause a variety of conditions, including asbestosis, mesothelioma, Asbestos Related Pleural Disease (APRD) and lung cancer.

In NSW anyone who has been exposed to asbestos dust or fibre may be entitled to claim for compensation.

There are many factors to consider in such cases, and time can be of the essence. Some personal injury lawyers in Sydney can offer specialist advice in the case of asbestos-related compensation claims.

No win no fee lawyers will provide a free face to face or telephone consultation and go through the procedures required for a claim and the possible compensation to be gained.

Minister Shorten said that due to the vast amount of asbestos still in the built environment in Australia, the government doesn’t expect asbestos-related deaths to peak until 2020.

Over the next two decades, it is expected that another 30-40,000 people will be diagnosed with dust diseases caused by asbestos.

“There are children not yet born who will die of asbestos related diseases. We owe it to future generations to come to grips with the blight of asbestos.”

With the creation of a new agency, the government will seek to protect people from asbestos in buildings and also from freshly dumped materials which threaten the public.

This week, the City of Sydney released CCTV footage of a light truck dumping more than two tonnes of asbestos materials outside of two preschool centres, appealing for the public to help with identifying the culprit.

Mr Shorten said that this incident was a reminder of the risks of asbestos to Australian communities.

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