Risk of fines for asbestos

THE new year means new workplace safety regulations for the region’s business people, but many may be risking large fines simply because they’re not aware of one of the major changes.

From January 1 it’s mandatory for NSW businesses to have an asbestos register in place, identifying where all the asbestos in a particular workplace is located. 

Tamworth’s Cork Construction and Consultancy asbestos inspector Jeff Cork said the register was a document that listed all identified or assumed asbestos in a workplace, and was necessary for any building constructed before December 31, 2003.

“This involves an inspector coming to the workplace to take a variety of samples from around the building and these are then sent to a lab for testing,” he said. 

“After the results are back we then collate them in a detailed register as required by WorkCover.”

Any material found to contain asbestos must then be labelled.

Kylie Cork said many businesses may not even be aware of need for a register and those without one could be liable for a fine of up to $1 million.

There’d also been some confusion over who was responsible for the implementation of the register, she said, some businesses thinking it was up to the building’s owner.

“It doesn’t matter if you lease or own the building, whoever manages the business is responsible for the register and also the implementation of an asbestos management plan,” she said.

Mrs Cork said it was a considerable impost on business, but it wasn’t worthwhile going without one when such big financial penalties applied.

She said their company had been busy across the region in the past few months carrying out inspections, and in the majority of cases asbestos had been identified in at least some of the 

samples.

Quirindi businesswoman Julie Green, principal of Julie Green Real Estate, said it was important for improving safety in the workplace.

“This is so employees, employers and anyone accessing the building are aware that asbestos is present and any material that is deemed unsafe can be removed or repaired,” she said.

Fines for companies that don’t comply start from $1,000,000 and for individuals $600,000.

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