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Asbestos on-the-spot fine 2309443

Licence number 2309443
Date of incident 21 May 2018
Incident location (suburb) Holland Park, Queensland
Incident description

The licensed asbestos removalist had been engaged by the owner of a domestic house to remove asbestos containing materials (ACM). During an unannounced audit of the site by the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Asbestos Unit, a broom was identified to have been used to sweep up asbestos contaminated dust and debris (ACD). This audit was conducted because Inspectors from the Asbestos Unit had identified poor asbestos removal issues at another site.

Investigation outcomes
  • The activity of using a broom to sweep up ACD (without measures to contain airborne asbestos) is prohibited because of the high risk of exposure to asbestos.
  • Although, the ACD was minor in amount, licensed asbestos removalists are issued with a license with the conditions that work associated with the license is always carried out safely and competently.
  • The use of the broom was quickly identified and use prohibited and disposed of as asbestos waste. This minimised any potential ongoing risk of exposure to persons.
Considerations
  • The PCBU cooperated and assisted inspectors throughout the assessment.
  • Any potential risk was minimised and therefore considered low.
  • The PCBU had procedures in place for working with asbestos, an oversight resulted in the incident occurring.
  • The PCBU has no previous work health and safety convictions.
Enforcement action taken

In consideration of the circumstances, it was decided that the most appropriate enforcement action was to issue an infringement notice to the PCBU under the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011:

  • s446(3) – allowing a worker to carry out a prohibited activity namely, the use of a broom on an ACM without containing airborne asbestos – $436.00.

In addition, the use of the broom at this site along with poor asbestos removal practices identified at another site recently audited, all contributed to evidence to issue the licence holder with a warning letter advising that the PCBU would be audited again by the Asbestos Unit with the expectation that asbestos removal practices were to be in compliance with the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.