The Federal Government has released the report of its national Asbestos Management Review.This follows the setting up of a review committee in 2010 headed by former ACTU assistant secretary Geoff Fary with the aim of developing a national policy on the future management of asbestos. His review advisory group included lawyers, medical experts, industry and union representatives and academics.
The committee undertook extensive and wide-reaching community consultation with the brief of examining ways of reducing the levels of exposure to asbestos in the general public.
Australia is experiencing what is termed a ‘third wave’ of asbestos-related diseases. This follows the first wave of disease affecting the workers who mined asbestos in the first half of the last century and the second wave of disease which affected the people involved in the manufacturing and construction industries.
These were the people who made the asbestos materials and used them in the post-war housing boom of the 1950s and 60s. As these houses and premises from that era reach the end of their lives a new third wave of asbestos is emerging amongst people who are exposed to asbestos dust when renovating their homes.
The main recommendations of the review are:
1. The creation of a national Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management
2. The creation of a national agency to implement, review and oversee the ongoing development of the national plan
3. The preparation of an asbestos removal plan with the aim of removing asbestos from government and commercial buildings by 2030
4. The preparation of a scheme for introducing an Asbestos Content Report for all residential properties constructed before 1987. This would require homeowners to have their premises inspected at the point of sale or lease and before any renovation takes place. This would alert purchasers, tenants and potential workers to the presence of asbestos on the site.
The report can be found at: http://www.deewr.gov.au/amr