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Asbestos on-the-spot fine 257883

Event number 257883
Date of incident 22 May 2018
Incident location (suburb) Redbank Plains, Queensland
Incident description

The incorporated PCBU was in the business of undertaking electrical work, and had been engaged by the owner of a domestic house to work on the switchboard. To undertake the work, the PCBU tasked it to one of their electrical workers, who attended the site and used an implement on an asbestos containing material (ACM) board inside the switchboard. An investigation by the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) Asbestos Unit identified the space inside the switchboard to be contaminated with asbestos contaminated dust and debris (ACD).

Investigation outcomes
  • The activity to use an implement on ACM was a prohibited practice, 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 undertook the work alone. The ACD was confined to the switchboard and the switchboard was considered an area with restricted access.
  • The contaminated areas were quickly identified and control measures put in place by WHSQ to decontaminate. This minimised any potential ongoing risk of exposure to people.
  • The ACD was considered very minor in volume with costs of approximately $590.00 to remove the ACD from the switch box.
Considerations
  • The PCBU co-operated and assisted inspectors throughout the investigation.
  • Any potential risk was minimised and therefore considered low.
  • The PCBU had procedures in place for working with asbestos, but reasonable circumstances and an oversight resulted in the incident occurring.
  • The PCBU has no previous work health and safety convictions.
Enforcement action taken

Improvement notice was issued to the PCBU regarding a review of their training of workers working with asbestos.

In consideration of the circumstances and the mitigating factors, 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 power tool on an ACM without containing airborne asbestos – $2,160.00.