SafeWork SA has released their 2021 report following compliance audits focussing on licensed asbestos removal practices.

The largest areas of non-compliance identified during the campaign related to respiratory protection equipment (RPE) not being fit-tested on the worker to ensure it creates an effective facial seal to minimise exposure to airborne asbestos fibres, and workers not being provided health monitoring.

South Australia is a signatory to the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness 2019-2023 (the NSP). The aim of the NSP is to eliminate asbestos-related diseases in Australia by preventing exposure to asbestos fibres.

A review of SafeWork SA’s records for asbestos related interventions during 2020 identified that there were 359 concerns raised by workers and the public. This information and audit findings were used to compile the Asbestos Activity 2020 Health and Safety Snapshot.

Audit findings

The compliance campaign was conducted from May through to July 2021.

During the campaign period, SafeWork SA:

  • conducted 48 audits comprising of;
    • 28% of licensed asbestos removalists
    • 33% of buildings requiring an asbestos register
  • 21 statutory notices were issued, consisting of:
    • 7 Prohibition notices
    • 14 Improvement notices
  • cancelled a class B asbestos removalist licence
  • suspended a licensed asbestos assessor.

SafeWork SA Executive Director, Martyn Campbell said the licence holders who failed to meet their obligations, particularly with respirator fit testing, placed their workers at serious risk.

“The negative health impacts associated with inhaling airborne asbestos fibres are well known and continued non-compliance towards their removal workers may lead to licence suspensions, cancellations or prosecution.

The results are disappointing as licensed asbestos removalists should have a sound understanding of the asbestos legislation and related codes of practice”, said Mr Campbell.

Read the full report for details and recommendations.