Good news for all Australians but especially those involved in renovation and demolition work, legislation has just been introduced to parliament for the establishment of an Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency. The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Minister Shorten, announced the legislation a few weeks ago.
According to the Minister, Australia’s history of widespread use of asbestos in the past in many industries such as the building industry has left a legacy of asbestos-containing material on our environment which is potentially deadly.
An article on SafetyCulture.com.au explains more about the legislation and the Minister’s comments:
“It’s been almost a decade since asbestos was banned in this country and still, today, the dangers of this silent killer remain. Asbestos is the worst industrial menace that will go on killing for decades,” Mr Shorten said.
“The sad truth is that asbestos-related deaths are not expected to peak until 2020, and that tragically, we are expecting another 30-40,000 people to be diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases in the next 20 years. There are children not yet born who will die of asbestos related diseases. We owe it to future generations to come to grips with the blight of asbestos.”
The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill 2013 will establish the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency and will work with jurisdictions for a nationally consistent approach on asbestos eradication, handling and awareness, including environmental and public health issues.
Sadly Australia suffers from the world’s highest number of Mesothelioma infections, a deadly asbestos induced disease developed over a period of time due to asbestos exposure. That is why action is needed to ensure more Australians are not infected with this lethal sickness in the future.
The Minister went on highlighting some rather shocking and sad situations regarding asbestos in Oz:
“We have been reminded this week of the risks of asbestos to the community, with disturbing vision circulated of a truck illegally dumping asbestos material outside a preschool in Sydney. I am disgusted at the reckless, deliberate and callous behaviour displayed by the truck driver.”
“The Agency we are setting up will have amongst its first tasks the implementation of a plan to tackle illegal dumping and to encourage safe disposal across Australia.”
“The agency will work in tandem with all levels of government, unions, industry and support groups to implement a plan of action to eliminate asbestos exposure. This is the first time that we will have a coordinated approach to eradicating, and handling asbestos beyond our workplaces.”
The post goes on to explain the review advocates that fast action is needed to prevent further asbestos related infections due to the deadly asbestos fibres being released into the air. The new plan will have to incorporate issues such as the identification of asbestos containing materials in buildings, asbestos removal, handling and storage as well as increasing asbestos education and awareness.
The Australian Government created the Office of Asbestos Safety in August 2012 to begin working with jurisdictions and stakeholders to start the development of the new national strategic plan by 1 July this year. The government aims to have the new agency up and running as of 1 July 2013.
You can visit http://deewr.gov.au/office-asbestos-safety to provide feedback on the draft plan at the Office’s website or to find out more.