Telstra has announced a new set of policies that it will require NBN contractors to adhere to when working with asbestos-handling materials.
In a June 19 media release, the telecommunications company identified a number of actions that each of its three key contractors must take to improve their processes and their management of sub-contractors.
Telstra chief operations officer Brendon Riley says that a preliminary review of current practices had turned up “important areas for improvement”.
“The review supports our decision, announced in late May, to implement a number of measures including increased oversight of our contractors,” said Mr Riley.
Telstra will require all contractors to improve the supervision of their field teams as well as oversight in general.
Supervisors will be supplemented by up to 200 additional staff recruited by the telco to work alongside contractor teams.
“These specialists will be critical in inspecting and supervising asbestos-related remediation work by contractors and their sub-contractors,” Mr Riley explained.
It was also found that there were gaps in sub-contractor asbestos awareness and competency training. Telstra aims to fill these gaps by imposing mandatory standards on training contractors and sub-contractors.
Training content will be subject to independent review, and Telstra will consult with Comcare and unions on this important area.
There will also be work done to ensure that all field teams have the requisite equipment and safety gear needed to handle asbestos materials safely, including signage, ground cover, removal bags and recording equipment.
Finally, Telstra plans to work with contractors and sub-contractors to improve community engagement.
This includes involving communities in the scheduling of pit remediation activities, disclosure of asbestos locations and more transparency in general.
Mr Riley says that Telstra will likewise keep the public informed of what it is doing to improve the safety of asbestos management on NBN work sites.
“We will not allow recommencement of cement pit remediation work until we are satisfied the necessary safety measures are in place.”
In NSW, anyone who has a dust-related condition that has come about as a result of exposure to asbestos dust or fibres may be able to claim for injury compensation.
Specialist personal injury lawyers have much experience with these kinds of claims and can provide expert advice about how to proceed.
If you or someone you know may have been exposed to asbestos containing materials, get in touch today with a legal expert.