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Asbestos on-the-spot fine 248241

Event number 248241
Date of incident 10 October 2017
Incident location (suburb) Boonah, Queensland
Incident description

The sole trader PCBU was a roof restoration contractor engaged by the owner of a domestic house to clean the roof. To undertake the work, the PCBU used high pressure water spray equipment to clean the roof. An investigation by the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) Asbestos Unit identified this activity generated asbestos contaminated dust and debris (ACD) within and outside the property boundaries.

Investigation outcomes
  • Although the event itself was a prohibited practice (to use high pressure equipment on an asbestos containing material (ACM)) and is considered a serious breach in terms of the potential to expose person/s to a risk of illness, the extent to which the prohibited practice was performed caused minimal potential risk in a lowly populated area.
  • The contaminated areas were quickly identified and control measures put in place by WHSQ, before decontamination took place. This minimised the potential risk of exposure to any other persons.
  • The ACD was primarily confined to the relevant property.
  • Potential exposure to a risk to persons following the activity was also minimised because the ACD was promptly cleaned up by the PCBU.
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 approximately $10,000.
  • Any potential risk was minimised and therefore considered low.
  • The PCBU has no previous work health and safety convictions.
Enforcement action taken

An improvement notice was issued to the PCBU under s484(1) to clean up the asbestos waste, which was promptly complied with.

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

  • s446(1) – allowing a worker to carry out a prohibited activity namely, the use of high pressure water spray on an ACM (asbestos roof) – $432.00.