The ACT Government will be introducing amendments to the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 this week, aiming to continue its efforts to improve the health and safety of local workers.
The changes mean that ACT workers that could potentially come in contact with materials containing asbestos will be required to complete an approved training course on handling asbestos safely.
Asbestos becomes a health risk when its fibres are released into the air and breathed in, as breathing in asbestos fibres have been known to cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety Rachel Stephen-Smith said asbestos is an ongoing risk to the community, particularly when it comes to the health and safety of workers.
“We must do everything we can to minimise the risk of serious disease to our workers from improperly handling asbestos. This includes educating workers on the risks of asbestos and best practice for handling the material,” the Minister said.
The expanded requirements will support workers not involved in asbestos removal but who may disturb asbestos as part of minor or routine work – such as drilling into a wall to install a cable.
“This new training requirement will ensure plumbers, electricians and others who might disturb asbestos in the workplace know what to do and how to protect themselves and their workmates,” explained Ms Stephen-Smith.
“While many workers within these industries have already undertaken the training course, the government wants to ensure that all at-risk workers have this important safety information,” she added.
The ACT Government consulted with the building and construction industry to develop these regulatory changes. The amendments will commence on 1 July 2019.