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Asbestos on-the-spot fine 249533

Event number 249533
Date of incident 06 November 2017
Incident location (suburb) Deception Bay, Queensland
Incident description

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

Investigation outcomes
  • Although the event itself was a prohibited practice (to use high pressure equipment on an asbestos containing material (ACM) roof), 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 risk because the worker acted alone and the ACD was confined to the relevant property.
  • 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 confined to the relevant property.
  • Potential exposure of risk to persons following the activity was also minimised because the ACD was promptly cleaned up by the PCBU.
  • 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 $16,500.
  • 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. A prohibition notice was issued to the PCBU under s420 to stop any activity that may cause the ACD to be disturbed, which was 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 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 – $2,160.00.