From Monday 10 May 2021, SafeWork SA will be commencing proactive compliance audits of licensed asbestos removal jobs to ensure the requirements of the regulations are met.

According to the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA), asbestos kills more than 4,000 Australians each year from asbestos-related disease.

SafeWork SA will be continuing with the stance of no excuses for non-compliance with asbestos regulations and safe removal as the risks are clear, asbestos is a carcinogenic.

Three compliance campaigns were undertaken during 2020 by SafeWork SA with a combination of routine visits and desktop audits.

See the 2020 asbestos snapshot for details of SafeWork SA enforcement actions undertaken including the top reasons why enforcement was required.

Glenn Farrell, Acting Executive Director, SafeWork SA said, “Over the past 18 months, we have been reinforcing the message with asbestos licence holders that complying with asbestos regulations is mandatory.

2020 data from SafeWork SA shows that:

  • 5833 x licensed asbestos removal notifications were received
  • 27 x letters of warning and reminder of legal obligations issued
  • 50 x prohibition notices were issued relating to asbestos removal
  • Suspension of:
    • 2 x class B asbestos removal licences
    • 1 x asbestos assessor licence.

“There is an expectation amongst the community that the engagement of an asbestos licence holder will give some certainty that compliance with the legislation is being met and that high safety standards are applied. If there is a continued disregard by licence holders and other duty holders in meeting their obligations under law, I will not hesitate to take action.

Asbestos regulations have been in place for more than 25 years and there is ample information around the risks and control measures in place including the Asbestos website”, said Mr Farrell.

A $2,200 expiation notice was recently issued by SafeWork SA to a person with management and control of a workplace for failing to have an asbestos register.

Earlier this year a construction company was fined $3,600 after they failed to review an asbestos register leading to workers carrying out demolition work being exposed to asbestos fibres.

There are a number of ways SafeWork SA enforces compliance including prohibition and improvement notices, licence suspension, expiations and even prosecution.

Future focus

The National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management 2019-2023 (NSP) was launched in November 2019 by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA).

SafeWork SA has established an Executive-level government Strategic Group to develop an action plan that involves collaboration to identify actions that align with the NSP’s strategic actions, and share strategies in place for asbestos management

Mr Farrell said the benefits of a coordinated and collaborative approach to asbestos awareness and management are evident from the development of the “one-stop-shop” website asbestos.sa.gov.au that was launched in late 2019.

“I am optimistic that this coordinated and collaborative approach to asbestos awareness and management in South Australia will significantly contribute to the elimination of asbestos-related disease in this State”, said Mr Farrell.

Further information on asbestos

Information on asbestos can be found on the South Australian Government asbestos website which provides practical information about asbestos, how to identify it, and how to have it safely removed.