Survey: asbestos still real danger for Victorian Workplaces

On the eve of Asbestos Awareness Week: Monday 22nd - Friday 26th November 2010
Media Release: Friday November 19, 2010

A major survey of Victorian OHS representatives has discovered that asbestos in workplaces, the home and in the community remains a threat to public health in Victoria, the Victorian Trades Hall Council has warned.

The survey conducted by Victoria’s leading Asbestos disease support and advocacy groups, polled 295 representatives from a range of industries in October.

It found:
  • An astonishing 72% of respondents indicated that it was likely that they had been exposed to asbestos
  • 42% of respondents indicated they had been exposed at their current or previous workplaces
  • 25% indicated that they had been exposed in the community with schools, public buildings and the local neighbourhood often mentioned
  • 62% thought there wasn’t an asbestos register at their workplace or didn’t know there was one. More than half did not know if there was a plan to remove asbestos from their workplace.   

Commenting on this, Brian Boyd VTHC Secretary said today: “These findings provide a stark reminder of the threat of asbestos at work.”

Mr Boyd added: “The survey also highlighted the threat of asbestos in the home. One in five of the safety reps had encountered asbestos materials doing home renovations and a third of these had not taken any safety precautions when dealing with the asbestos.”

The VTHC also said the survey indicated that women were less likely to aware of the risk of asbestos exposure than men and that respondents under 45 were also less likely to be aware of the risk of exposure.

The VTHC Secretary said the union movement is right behind the upcoming Australian Asbestos Awareness Week (Monday 22nd-Friday 26th November).

We are calling on a newly elected Victorian State Government to prioritise two areas:
  • To lobby for a national asbestos authority thats main aim is to achieve an asbestos free workplace environment by 2030 and
  • To urgently start addressing the ever increased risks faced in the domestic asbestos area with education and awareness programs around home renovation and safe disposal.
For further information, please contact:  
Brian Boyd, Secretary – 9659 3511 or 0418 587 461
Helen Atkinson EA to VTHC Secretary 9659 3542