Asbestos poses a serious threat to worker safety in Australia

Published by Marshall & Gibson Lawyers on the 30 April 2017

You might think that asbestos has been largely eradicated as a threat to workplace health and safety in the 21st century, and you'd be mostly correct. But there are still some work sites in Australia where the hazardous silicate minerals still exist, and prolonged exposure to them might be a problem for employees.

It should therefore come as no surprise that the Australian Government is cracking down on companies that fail to eliminate the substance. This includes mandates for health monitoring to keep people safe and prohibitive fines to reprimand those that don't follow the law.

Health monitoring is now a requirement in Australia

One key way that Australia has cracked down on asbestos-related health issues is by requiring health monitoring. According to SafeWork Australia, anyone needs to be monitored if they're exposed to asbestos on a work site for any reason other than licensed asbestos removal.

These rules come into play when people are hired for doing contract work, such as electrical wiring or building maintenance, in older structures. If there's the chance for frequent exposure to asbestos, the workers hired need to be monitored for the full duration of the work they're undertaking.

In NSW, companies can be fined on the spot

In New South Wales especially, there's been a recent crackdown on companies that expose their employees to asbestos. This is most evident in SafeWork NSW's announcement that the state will begin issuing fines on the spot when an inspector finds health violations, such as a company hiring an unlicensed asbestos removalist.

Peter Dunphy, executive director of WorkCover's work health and safety division, said in a statement that the government has begun taking asbestos violations very seriously.

"In NSW, there are rigorous legal and safety requirements for the management of asbestos," Mr Dunphy said. "Any business or individual that commissions the removal of asbestos must ensure the work is done by a removalist who is appropriately licensed by WorkCover NSW."

Need legal help? We'll be ready when called upon

If you're ever in a situation where you've been harmed by exposure to asbestos, you may well need legal help to resolve the conflict with your employer and/or your insurer or medical provider. If you get that help through Marshall and Gibson Lawyers, we pledge to give you peace of mind throughout the process, handling everything for you smoothly and getting results.

You may well be eligible for compensation for the health risks you've been exposed to, but you'll never know until you talk to a lawyer and find out. Give us a call and get a free case evaluation.