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Asbestos on-the-spot fine 247526

Event number 247526
Date of incident 20 September 2017
Incident location (suburb) Moranbah, Queensland
Incident description

The licensed asbestos removalist and builder was engaged by the owner of a domestic house (circa 1970s) to undertake renovations. The work involved the removal of internal and external walls, ceiling and cladding. An assumption was made by the builder/removalist there was no asbestos containing materials (ACM). To undertake the work, the PCBU used power tools including grinders to remove building materials.

An investigation by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) subsequently identified ACM such as Wunderplank, asbestos fibro, Tilux, floor tiles and sheet vinyl were present and the removal activity generated asbestos contaminated dust and debris (ACD) within and outside the property.

Investigation outcomes
  • The types of ACM at this property are very common uses of asbestos in building materials and it is expected that a licensed asbestos removalist would be able to identify these ACM.
  • The era of the property’s initial construction meant it was very likely that ACM would be present.
Considerations
  • The PCBU cooperated and assisted inspectors throughout the investigation.
  • Following the incident the PCBU remediated the site in a timely manner at a cost of approx. $62,000.
  • The PCBU has no previous work health and safety convictions.
Enforcement action taken

An improvement notice was issued to the PCBU under s472(1) to clean up the ACD, which was complied with.

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) – carrying out a prohibited activity namely, the use of a power tool on ACM without controlling airborne asbestos – $432.00
  • Recommend suspension of the asbestos removal licence with a disqualification period of six months and the requirement to complete training on common uses and locations of ACMs, as a condition of the suspension being lifted.