Work on Construction Site Halted after Asbestos Scare

Work on a Murwillumbah construction site has been placed on hold until it is cleared of asbestos. This after the council identified a potential WH&S risk involving asbestos and other contaminants and requested that work on the site be halted until the issues could be resolved.

A meeting was also conducted on the site with an officer from WorkCover NSW, council representatives, the site’s owner and the site development proponents to ensure that all the required health and safety measures are implemented before work can continue on the site.

This excerpt from an article on explains what happened:

25-2156863-twe110413building4_t460AN asbestos and other contaminants scare has caused work to ground to a halt on a 24-hour McDonald’s fast-food outlet and IGA supermarket development at Murwillumbah.

Work would not re-commence on the $3 million Tweed Valley Way development until a “satisfactory” Work Health and Safety Plan had been completed, Tweed Shire Council Director Planning and Regulation Vince Connell said.

In July 25 council identified a potential occupational health and safety risk on the site involving asbestos and other contaminants and requested that the site owner cease all work until the concerns had been addressed, Mr Connell said.

A Workcover NSW officer met this morning with representatives from council, the site owner and the development proponents on the site with the aim of ensuring that appropriate health and safety measures were put in place.


All parties at the site meeting agreed that the next logical step would be for the site principal to consult with the construction consultants and contractors in order to document the construction work conducted up until now and thereafter produce a Work Health and Safety Plan as well as project management measures for future work on the site. These plans would be developed with the assistance of WorkCover NSW and Council.

The development of the McDonalds restaurant seems to have been plagued with problems from the beginning having only been approved last year under 124 special conditions because of some residents opposed to the fast food outlet.

This incident highlights the importance of determining the presence of asbestos before work even begins and making sure that workers on site are aware of the risks. It is also an example of why appropriate health and safety plans are implemented prior to work beginning on the site.

Before work begins on any site the hazards need to be identified and the risks associated with them need to be assessed. Once they have identified the hazards common to the site and the risk associated with them, a safe work method statement should be developed.

All hazards are serious but asbestos and contaminants are particularly so because workers are often unaware of the risk to their health until it is too late and they have been exposed to possibly deadly asbestos fibres. One of the biggest risks of exposure to asbestos fibres is the possibility of developing Mesothelioma. Australia has the highest rate of this fatal disease in the world, which is why the issue of asbestos is such a concerning one in this country especially on construction sites.


Construction News: School Evacuated over Asbestos Scare

You know the asbestos crisis has gotten out of hand when it starts affecting schools as it did this week in Victoria. Timboon P-12 school’s future is in question after a number of students and teachers had to be evacuated after asbestos was discovered on the premises. The school had to be shut down and the gates locked so that students were not at risk of further exposure.

This is the last straw for desperate parents who are hoping that the government will now take action after 5 years of lobbying for $7 million to fix down the run down facilities.

According to an article on an independent report commissioned by the government has revealed that 57 per cent of the school buildings are in poor condition and at least 34 per cent need to be bulldozed.

WorkSafe Victoria did not have any information for parents as to how much asbestos was found or the risk it exposed their children to. Parents also do not know when their children will be allowed to return to school.

The post on explained:

1“WorkSafe was called to Timboon P-12 School in relation to asbestos … it identified several safety concerns, including exposed asbestos and peeling paint that may be lead-based,” a spokeswoman said.

She was unable to say who had contacted WorkSafe with the concerns.

“A prohibition notice was issued, which prevents the school being used until all safety issues are addressed.”

The Education Depart-ment released a brief letter to parents through Timboon P-12 principal Rosalie Moorfield, saying that “WorkSafe visited our school to inspect the eaves of our toilet block, which were suspected to contain asbestos”.

“However, the inspector brought wider concerns to our attention and has issued a prohibition notice,” Ms Moorfield said.


According to reports an environmental assessor is now completing an overall review of the school and will release findings soon.

This incident is an example of how innocent lives can be affected by asbestos. Disturbing asbestos materials may generate airborne asbestos fibres. Asbestos is only dangerous if it becomes airborne and inhaled over a period of time, at which time it may contribute to life-threatening, incurable diseases such as Mesothelioma and Asbestosis some of which only reveal themselves years later. It’s frightening to think that innocent children may have been exposed to asbestos fibres and may suffer later on down the line.

With all the asbestos related incidents occurring in Oz as of late, it is important that builders and even the general public are aware of what to do if they are exposed.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, it is important to assess the amount of your exposure. If you were exposed only very briefly, or only at very low levels, your risk of a resulting disease is probably low. However, if you were exposed at high levels or for long periods of time, you may be at increased risk of certain cancers or the other diseases and need to seek medical attention. Smoking may make the consequences of asbestos exposure worse, so quit immediately. Speak to a medical health professional as you may have to go in for regular check-ups because asbestos related diseases take so long to reveal themselves.

Also inform your doctor if you start to have symptoms that might be related to asbestos exposure such as shortness of breath, a new or worsening cough, pain or tightness in the chest, trouble swallowing, or unintended weight loss. See your doctor as soon as possible for any respiratory illness.