December 11, 2018

Asbestos found at three Qld NBN sites

Asbestos has been discovered at three national broadband network (NBN) work sites in Queensland.

The hazardous material was water-blasted on to the faces of workers at an underground Telstra pit in Brisbane, and asbestos dust at a Mackay site was left unattended for five days, the Queensland government says.

State Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie says federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten needs to take responsibility, following the discoveries by Queensland’s Workplace Health and Safety agency.

“This is an absolute botched debacle again by a federal government,” Mr Bleijie told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.

“We saw it with the home insulation debacle we had a few years ago.

“I’m concerned about the workers in Queensland who may be unprotected and may not have the necessary training to deal with asbestos issues.”

Mr Bleijie said a class action could be launched against the NBN Co or the commonwealth as a national asbestos register is established.

Mr Bleijie has written to Mr Shorten pointing out the workplace safety breaches.

“I’ve asked for an immediate update with respect to what the federal government are doing,” he said.

“My major concern is for the workers.”

In a breach discovered in early March, asbestos was water-blasted onto the faces of two workers at Carseldine in Brisbane’s north.

In Mackay, in central Queensland, asbestos dust was left for five days after a concrete pipe was cut in April.

Asbestos was also left on a nearby footpath, and workers wore the wrong masks.

Two weeks ago, two workers were found to have used respirators wrongly at a Banyo site, in northern Brisbane.

The breaches occurred as underground Telstra pits were widened to install NBN cables, but Mr Bleijie was unable to say if work had been suspended at the sites by contractor Silcar.

“We have no option now but to look at all the sites of the NBN across Queensland.”

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Asbestos found at three Qld NBN sites

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