Queensland homes and worksites will be safer under a new asbestos management strategy that will be the most comprehensive and rigorous of its kind in Australia.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said the Statewide Strategic Plan for the Safe Management of Asbestos in Queensland focused on effective cooperation with local councils, education and enforcement.
“This comprehensive strategy will mean safer workplaces, safer homes and safer communities,” Mr Bleijie said.
“The health risks of asbestos are tragically real and managing it effectively and safely is vital.
“Just one example of the importance of safer asbestos management is the story of Adam Sager, who was unknowingly exposed to asbestos when he was 18 months old and died of mesothelioma at age 25.
“Sadly, despite the dangers, effective management of this substance has been hampered in the past by confusion and jurisdictional quibbling, which the former Labor Government never bothered to fix.
“Right now, the handling of asbestos complaints and issues is administered by four different State Government departments, 73 local councils and numerous other government agencies.
“Our new strategy will cut through the confusion and bureaucracy by creating a clear set of responsibilities.
“Workplace incidents will be handled by the State Government and local councils will cover complaints about private residences.
“A simple agreement over who does what clears the way for faster, more effective responses and that’s just one piece of our overhaul.
“Ensuring and enforcing compliance forms an important part of the strategy, which includes a range of initiatives that ensures people follow safety regulations and cracks down on those who don’t.”
A review of the suitability of existing penalties and enforcement tools available to Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) inspectors
Strengthening the administration of asbestos licensing, including a process for suspending or cancelling an asbestos licence where a licence holder contravenes the legislation.
Creating a public online register of WHS asbestos license holders so Queenslanders can check the licensing and compliance records of contractors.
“Better education will also be a major part of this new strategy. A range of educational materials will be rolled out, including a series of short films which will explain to DIY home owners and businesses their legal obligations for managing and removing asbestos containing materials,” he said.
“There will be no excuse in the future for people disposing of asbestos illegally or not having the correct licenses or safety equipment. Those who don’t comply will face consequences.”
“Workplace Health and Safety will also continue to carry out targeted compliance and enforcement programs.
“We are committed to making Queensland workplaces the safest in Australia and this new strategy will go a long way to achieving that.”
For more information on the strategy and a high definition video of “Losing Breath – The Adam Sager Story”, visit www.qld.gov.au/asbestos ( http://www.qld.gov.au/asbestos ).
[ENDS] 3 April 2014
Media Contact: Ashley McDermid 0412 731 355 or Jaime Wells 0409 624 139