October 22, 2018

Investigation into asbestos near school

PEAK safety body WorkSafe Victoria has launched an investigation into claims workers dumped bags of asbestos just metres from a Ballarat primary school during the National Broadband Network roll-out.

Telstra has also announced it will employ 200 specialists to supervise asbestos removal during the roll-out.

The telco giant has stopped remediation work on its pits and ducts, some of which contain asbestos, while an audit is completed into whether any safety measures were breached.

The stop-work comes after a string of asbestos-related issues involving Telstra contractors were reported around the country.

Leighton subsidiary Visionstream is the contractor co-ordinating the work in Ballarat.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said federal workplace safety regulator Comcare was also investigating the issue of improper asbestos handling.

On Monday, The Courier and The Australian Financial Review revealed that bags full of deadly asbestos material had been left for a weekend outside a Mount Clear Telstra exchange located next to a primary school.

Ballarat MP Catherine King said she shared the community’s concerns about safe handling of asbestos and had written to NBN Co asking it to explain the incident in Mount Clear.

“These pits and ducts are owned by Telstra and it is their responsibility to get them ready for the NBN roll-out in a safe and secure way,” she said.

“The government expects Telstra and its contractors to follow Australia’s strict laws in the handling and removal of asbestos when it is preparing its pits and ducts for the roll-out of the NBN.”

Telstra chief operations officer Brendon Riley said the company was deeply concerned and would take “every precaution necessary” to strengthen its asbestos management processes.

“These are strong actions reflecting our absolute priority on the safety of our workers, our contractors and the community,” he said.

An NBN Co spokesperson said: “The Definitive Agreements between NBN Co and Telstra clearly define the remediation of Telstra’s own infrastructure as the responsibility of Telstra.”

The Office of Asbestos Safety will work with Telstra and its contractors to ensure asbestos handling is completed properly.


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Investigation into asbestos near school

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