The construction union is calling for urgent and immediate action to be taken by the Northern Territory Government to implement an education and awareness policy for asbestos after workers and the public were exposed to asbestos fibres.
On September 15, 2017 it was reported that workers, staff and the public were exposed to asbestos fibres while a new air conditioning unit was being fitted to the Alice Springs Hospital Pathology Building.
The CFMEU has said they condemn the false and misleading statement made by a Government spokesperson who said that air sampling and swab testing for asbestos returned a low positive result.
The union has slammed the government’s response saying comments like these prove what little knowledge and understanding Territorians seem to have of asbestos and its deadly consequences.
CFMEU health and safety co-ordinator Andrew Ramsay said: “There is no such thing as a low positive result for asbestos. It is either a positive or a negative result. Any exposure can have deadly consequences.”
“These false comments take away from the severity of the issue and give people a false sense of security.
“It is obvious that there is a major lack of awareness and education on asbestos and in the 21st century, it’s not acceptable.”
“The age of this particular building should have raised immediate alarm bells, as a buildings of that age are usually the first sign that asbestos containing materials may have been used in its construction,” said Ramsay.
“Asbestos disease does not discriminate. Every member of this community is at risk of being exposed to the silent killer that is asbestos and worryingly most people wouldn’t even be aware of it.”
CFMEU divisional branch secretary Michael Ravbar said: “Asbestos exposure in the Northern Territory has become somewhat of an epidemic. How many cases of asbestos exposure does there need to be before this Government shows some leadership and takes action on this major health issue?”
“The health and wellbeing of this community and future generations is being put in the hands of a useless regulator and an inactive Government that continues to sit on their hands and do nothing about this serious issue,” said Ravbar.
“NT Work Safe has been ineffective in sorting out this problem and ever-growing issue in the Northern Territory.”
Image sourced from Flickr cc: Michael Coghlan