WA company fined over asbestos failings

Date: May 29, 2014

The importance of recognising dangers at work have been highlighted by a recent Western Australian case where a company was fined over $5,000 for neglecting to properly identify the presence and location of asbestos at one of its worksites.

At the Perth Magistrates Court earlier this month SGS Australia – which owns and operates about 70 worksites around the country – plead guilty to exposing workers to asbestos at its geochemical service facility in Queens Park.

This case began back in June 2010, when Worksafe inspected the facilities. In it, the safety authority found asbestos in several parts of the building – something that had been missed by SGS. After the inspection, the company itself commissioned a report which confirmed the presence of the deadly fibre.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch told media the penalty handed down to SGS highlights the importance of finding and reporting asbestos.

"Although the company did make some attempt to address the asbestos issue at its other workplaces, it did not ensure that information about asbestos at its workplaces was passed along to all relevant parties, including any outside contractors who worked at their sites," he said.

"If a building may contain asbestos, everyone having any control has a responsibility to ensure that it is documented – from the employer, main contractor or self-employed person to the building owner or property manager."

In WA, the safety laws require businesses to set up a register which warns both employees and the public that the site contains asbestos. The law also states that signs must be placed in areas of concern so anyone entering the site can take necessary precautions to protect themselves.

According to the Australian Council of Trade Unions, more than 500 Australians die each year from asbestosis or Mesothelioma. If businesses around the country continue to fail to recognise the presence of asbestos, then this number will surely grow.

If you believe the building you are working on is filed with asbestos, there are some important tips to remember.

  • Alert senior management or your employer
  • Don't touch the contaminated material
  • Don't remove any items in the area
  • Limit access to the area
  • Contact an expert to to inspect/remove it

Asbestos compensation claims in NSW

Under New South Wales law, you are entitled to claim compensation on many dust-related conditions including asbestos and Mesothelioma. It is irrelevant whether you are a member of the public or a worker on site.

For more information, get in touch with the compensation lawyers at Gerard Malouf Partners today.

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