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 www.mydailynews.com.au explains what happened:
AN 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.