Asbestos regulations are changing in NSW, and the state government is asking residents to pitch in and offer their comments about proposed amendments.]
Last year, the Home Building Act 1989 was altered so that NSW Fair Trading could publish the Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation Register (LAIR). The public list shows any homes or other properties that have been linked to the hazardous material.
However, the state government is keen to go one step further and modify several other pieces of legislation. These include the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 and the Home Building Regulation 2014.
NSW Fair Trading has released the draft amendments so that communities can voice their opinions, collaborate on the changes and have a greater impact on the final result.
Exposure to asbestos can cause serious health problems, with lung diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis often life-threatening. In NSW, people who have developed these illnesses during the course of their jobs can even claim compensation for the associated medical costs and loss of income.
Rod Stowe, NSW Fair Trading commissioner, said: “I invite the New South Wales community to submit comments on the proposed changes to the Regulations.
“The proposed amendments are significant because they notify prospective homeowners, property agents and tenants about properties affected by loose-fill asbestos.”
Among the modifications is the ways in which the government will ascertain whether a property contains loose-fill asbestos, as well as what buildings should feature on the LAIR.
Rise in loose-fill asbestos tests
The government has encouraged homeowners and other residents whose dwellings were constructed before 1980 to apply for free tests to check if their properties contain loose-fill asbestos insulation.
According to NSW Fair Trading, the number of people who have requested an investigation has climbed significantly after the organisation arranged community forums across the state warning of asbestos dangers.
A further 450 registrations were recorded in the two weeks leading up to March 11, with 6,000 tests now either completed or confirmed. Any properties that are found to harbour the harmful material will be purchased and destroyed as part of a government scheme.
“Our hope is that more homeowners will be encouraged to register for free sample testing by the August 1 deadline,” Mr Stowe said.
A company commonly referred to as Mr Fluffy was responsible for fitting various properties with loose-fill asbestos during the 1960s and 1970s. The contamination was largely isolated to homes in the ACT, but some dwellings across NSW were also affected.
The state government therefore adopted the same remediation measures that ACT officials used, which included a buy-back and demolish scheme.