Master Builders’ new National Asbestos Management Control and Removal Policy 2015 calls for reforms to the regulation of Asbestos to better protect the safety of those working in the industry, owner builders, DIY renovators and others in the community.

Last year, at least 50 people a month were diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to Asbestos. That means this dreadful disease is diagnosed in approximately 600 Australians each year, with the latest figures showing it claims the lives of a similar number annually.

Master Builders wants all stakeholders to take every possible step to reduce this toll.

With the popularity of DIY home renovation showing no sign of abating and a forecast boom in renovation work following two years of strong growth in residential building, Master Builders is deeply concerned about the emerging ‘third wave’ of Asbestos victims who came into contact with it while renovating their homes, particularly pre-1987 houses.

Very few people know that the producers of the popular renovation shows get the professionals in to clear out any Asbestos before they allow contestants to start bashing away at walls or ceilings.

Master Builders is also concerned about the disposal of Asbestos. While the main laws relating to Asbestos management and control are generally well established and suitable, the laws around illegal dumping are inconsistent and poor.

For instance,

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there have been reported incidents of Asbestos being illegally stored or dumped in New South Wales and Victoria just in the past two months.

Other Asbestos regulatory issues also demand attention, including the urgent establishment of a Commonwealth contaminated sites register and a program of education for owner builders.

The top five priorities in Master Builders National Asbestos Management Control and Removal Policy are:

  • Regulatory reform to better address the illegal dumping of Asbestos
  • Reinstate the “10 square metre rule” in the ACT
  • Review of the National Asbestos Register
  • Commonwealth Register of contaminated sites
  • Increased funding for education and training for DIY-ers

In addition, there is also currently no requirement for individuals holding an owner-builder’s licence to undertake Asbestos awareness training. Master Builders recommends that there be consistent regulatory reform across the states and territories for owner builders to undertake training in the identification and removal of ACMs.

Regional Enviroscience – based in Dubbo NSW is a hazardous materials consultancy servicing regional NSW and employing people in regional NSW.  Regional Enviroscience are the regional NSW specialists in Asbestos Air Monitoring, NATA accredited Asbestos Testing, producing Asbestos Building Registers and Asbestos Management Plans and providing Asbestos Awareness Training NSW -wide.

Juliet Duffy, principal of Regional Enviroscience holds a Master of Sustainable Management from Sydney University and has been managing environmental health issues since 1988. Juliet is Director of Regional Enviroscience – an Asbestos & hazardous materials laboratory and occupational health consultancy based in regional NSW – Hunter Valley, Central NSW and the Riverina.