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Queensland Government agencies may prosecute individuals and businesses for asbestos offences under the laws that they enforce in accordance with their enforcement framework. Sanctions may include adding conditions, cancelling, suspending, disqualifying or issuing warnings to a person holding a licence.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigate and prepare briefs of evidence about offences concerning asbestos. Since 2019, prosecutions have been undertaken by the independent Office of the Work Health and Safety Prosecutor (OWHSP).
A summary of prosecutions for offences concerning asbestos from 2018–2021 is provided below.
- Decision date: 28/03/2018
- Penalty: Fined $4,500 global penalty for both complaints
- Description: The defendant, a construction company, held duties as a person with management or control of a workplace. It was engaged to undertake refurbishment works at a kindergarten commencing in the school holidays of September 2015. The renovation works required removal and disposal of existing ceiling tiles, vinyl flooring and external awning, and removal of the internal kitchen and cabinets for reuse. Asbestos was not identified at any time, other than in the internal wall sheeting which was not being removed.
- Decision date: 15/01/2018
- Penalty: $1000 fine plus one year good behavior bond with a recognisance of $1000
- Description: The defendant was contracted by a painting company to clean the roof of residential premises prior to painting. There were no conversations between the defendant and the contractor regarding the composition of the roof, safe procedures or equipment to use.
- Decision date: 24/07/2017
- Penalty: $175,000
- Description: Repair works were undertaken to a bridge over 5 months in 2012. The bridge contained asbestos, yet there was no documentation indicating this and no safety procedures outlining asbestos precautions. The workers were not informed the bridge contained asbestos and were required to use power tools for a period of two weeks, which generated significant dust.
- Decision date: 11/07/2017
- Penalty: Global Penalty for both charges $2,000 fine
- Description: The defendant held duties under ss.446(3) & 484(1) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011. He was a sole trader whose business included painting over asbestos using a fibroseal system. He was engaged to undertake roofing work at a residential property including repairing capping and fibroseal painting of the roofing which contained asbestos.
- Decision date: 06/07/2017
- Penalty: $750 with a good behavior bond for a period of 12 months with recognisance of $1000
- Description: The defendant was a sole trader who had conducted business for many years. He contracted for a house with a super six type asbestos roof to clean and paint the roof. He asked his apprentice to get on the roof and use a high pressure water blaster.
- Decision date: 20/06/2017
- Penalty: $100,000 fine
- Description: Roofmasters Pty Ltd held duties under s.19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a roofing and waterproofing business. It was engaged to repair a commercial building’s roof which sustained storm damage. The building contained asbestos.
- Decision date: 25/05/2017
- Penalty: $750 fine plus a court ordered good behavior bond for a period of 12 months with a recognizance in the sum of $1000
- Description: The defendant, a sole trader, was engaged to paint the exterior of a small block of flats. Both he and some of his casual workers were observed using power sanders and other tools preparing the exterior walls. Quantities of fine inhalable dust were created and settled over the grounds around the worksite.
- Decision date: 23/03/2017
- Penalty: $1,500 global penalty
- Description: The business included residential, commercial demolition and asbestos disposal. On or about 22 October 2015 the defendant commenced work removing a roof which contained asbestos. He failed to give written notice to Work Health and Safety Queensland at least five days before licenced asbestos removal work commenced .
- Decision date: 14/07/2016
- Penalty: Fined s.32,19(1) Act – $30,000 and s.706 Regs – $20,000
- Description: Between 1 January 2013 and 1 May 2013, the defendant caused bulk ACM to be brought to, and stored, at his business premises. The material was not contained in accordance with the relevant Asbestos Code of Practice.
- Decision date: 30/03/2016
- Penalty: $7,000
- Description: The defendant held duties under s.453 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 which required it to identify and remove asbestos before demolition of domestic premises. The defendant is an earthmoving civil construction company which builds roads, subdivisions, dams and other general earth moving works.
- Decision date: 15/03/2016
- Penalty: Fined $750
- Description: Two complaints were laid before the Court charging the defendant with offences relating to asbestos under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (the Act) and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (the Regulation). The first complaint contained two charges. Charge 1 was in relation to not complying with section 425(1) of the Regulation (i.e. failing to ensure an asbestos register was prepared and kept at the workplace) and Charge 2 was in relation to not complying with section 429(2) of the Regulation (i.e. failing to ensure a written asbestos management plan for the workplace was prepared). The second complaint before the Court was in relation to failing to comply with a requirement under section 43(1) of the Act, by carrying out work without being authorised under section 487(1) of the Regulation (i.e. by not being the holder of an asbestos removal licence). All of the charges arose out of the same incident.
- Decision date: 09/04/2015
- Penalty: Fined $750 plus Training Order
- Description: On 21 September 2013, the defendant, a glazier, was subcontracted to remove existing windows at a residential premises and install new aluminum windows in their place. An angle grinder was used by the defendant to cut external fibre cement sheeting to remove the existing windows. Cutting the fibre cement in this fashion caused a layer of dust to be deposited on surfaces throughout the interior of the house and in the yard outside. Testing of the dust confirmed asbestos contamination.
- Decision date: 18/12/2014
- Penalty: $5,000
- Description: The defendant was employed as a project officer in charge of repairs to a bridge from 5 January to 8 May 2012. The work required removal of fibro sheeting using power tools. After work had commenced, workers suspected that the fibro may contain asbestos.
Details of successful prosecution against E188738
- Decision date: 30/10/2014
- Penalty: $750 with a good behavior bond for a period of 12 months with recognizance of $1000 per s.19(1)(b) The Penalties and Sentences Act 1992
- Description: The defendant was engaged by a homeowner to carry out work on her home. The defendant used a high pressure water spray unit to clean her roof, resulting in asbestos containing material (ACM) contamination on the property, as well as neighbouring properties.
Details of successful prosecution against E180196
- Decision date: 01/05/2014
- Penalty: Fined $750 with a good behaviour bond for a period of 12 months with recognisance of $1000 (per the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992)
- Description: The defendant was engaged by a homeowner to carry out painting on her home. The work included painting an asbestos containing material (ACM) roof. The defendant used a high pressure water spray unit to clean the roof, resulting in ACM contamination on the property and neighbouring properties.
Details of successful prosecution against E169410
- Decision date: 26/03/2014
- Penalty: Court ordered 12 month work health and safety undertaking under section 239, with surety of $20,000
- Description: The defendant's business involved building work, including asbestos removal work. He was contracted by the local council to demolish a caretaker's cottage, which was comprised of asbestos containing material (ACM). The method of demolishing was to "smash and bash" using a sledge hammer to knock the external walls from the timber studs.