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July 16, 2018

Enhanced regulations for work involving asbestos to be introduced

SINGAPORE: The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council and the Ministry of Manpower have announced enhanced regulations for work involving asbestos, a substance that could potentially cause lung cancer.

Many older buildings, especially those built before 1990, may have asbestos-containing materials. These include corrugated roofs, ceiling boards and partition walls.

The new WSH (Asbestos) Regulations will replace the existing Factories (Asbestos) Regulations and take effect from May 1.

The new regulations come after three rounds of public consultations conducted last year.

Under the new regulations, an expert must be appointed to ascertain if asbestos-containing materials are present before starting demolition or renovation works on buildings built before 1 January 1991.

If asbestos is present, it must be removed before demolition can commence. The removal can only be carried out by an approved asbestos removal contractor, under proper supervision.

“This will ensure that workers carry out these work activities under proper management and protection. It will also prevent the release of asbestos fibres into the air which can affect the public,” said Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Dr Amy Khor.

To help the industry comply with the regulations, a new set of WSH guidelines on the management and removal of asbestos has been developed to guide contractors and building owners on the proper management of asbestos-containing materials.

In addition, a video has been produced with the aim of educating stakeholders on the health effects of asbestos exposure. The video will illustrate examples of where asbestos can be found and measures to apply in the management and removal process. 

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Enhanced regulations for work involving asbestos to be introduced

Asbestos registry proclaimed as law at Saskatchewan's legislature

REGINA – The Saskatchewan government has marked the death of a man who advocated for asbestos safety by officially enacting a new law making asbestos reporting mandatory.

Thursday’s proclamation of the law will require Crown corporations, school districts, health regions and the provincial government to ensure their buildings are listed on the province’s on-line registry if there is asbestos present anywhere in their facilities.

The law is named for Howard Willems, who died a year ago Thursday of cancer caused by inhaling asbestos while on his job as a federal food inspector.

“We’re the first (province) in Canada that has mandated a registry and the first one that has brought it up,” said Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan.

He gave Willems the credit for making it happen.

Willems spent years inspecting old dairy and honey facilities, which often used asbestos in building materials.

Before his death he formed the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, aiming to have the government create a public registry of buildings with asbestos in them.

On the anniversary of his stepfather’s death, Jesse Todd was there to see the new measure proclaimed.

“It’s a tremendous day,” he said. “It’s very gratifying to see it pass. It’s been a long year.”

Todd stressed that this is “Howard’s legacy, hoping that the recognition of the right to know for workers will help keep them safe.”

(CJME)

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Asbestos registry proclaimed as law at Saskatchewan's legislature

Justice sought with new asbestos registry

The union representing people who worked at a notorious asbestos mine on Newfoundland’s Baie Verte Peninsula is demanding changes to eligibility criteria that prevented most of them from receiving compensation.

The United Steelworkers union says health information gathered by the Baie Verte miners’ registry shows people who were unfairly denied for compensation to exposure to asbestos.

“Nobody should have had to be exposed to what they were exposed to, and it’s now well recognized,” said Andy King, the former director of the Steelworkers’ health, safety and environment department.

“Let’s try to do some justice.”

The registry is an electronic database of more than 1,000 people who worked at the mine between 1955 when a huge asbestos deposit was discovered, and 1995 when the mine closed permanently.

Among other things, the registry found that 109 former miners had asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer and asbestosis. Another 56 had gastrointestinal cancers, possibly related to asbestos exposure.

Over the weekend, residents of the Baie Verte area had the opportunity to speak with creators of the registry and ask questions about what it found.

The Steelworkers will be meeting this week with officials of the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission.

King said many people in the registry were unfairly treated. While 145 miners made claims to the commission, 100 — or more than two thirds of them — were denied compensation.

King said compensation was denied in some cases because of how the rules were structured. For instance, he said compensation was denied to workers who might have received the maximum exposure over just a few months.

“If you can’t provide some level of justice for those, how can people whose experience is perhaps less clear have confidence that the system will address their needs today?” King said in an interview.

In 1977, workers at the mine waged a 14-week strike that was unusual in that it focused largely on occupational safety.

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Justice sought with new asbestos registry

Recycling plant owners to pick up asbestos after fire

INDIANAPOLIS –

A week after the massive recycling plant fire, there’s still smoke coming from the remnants of the building. But the smoke and fire aren’t what people are worried about today. Now they are concerned about particles of asbestos that are littering the nearby neighborhoods.

It looks like white and black paper strewn all over the near west side. And the people that live just a few blocks from the Belmont Avenue warehouse fire have been picking up what they can.

“It was all over the yard – everywhere in the front yard. We cut it all up today,” one resident said.

Paper-like remnants are held together by asbestos. When the warehouse was built, asbestos tiles were the best thing going. No one knew the hazards of asbestos until years later. Now that hazard is littered across miles of Indianapolis. We found debris 5 miles away on College Avenue.

One lady said, “It is still around… I mean there is a lot of it around on the ground, but the smell is still pretty bad.”

The Marion County Health Department has ordered the owner of the recycling business to get the asbestos picked up.

Richard Griffith is training employee’s of the warehouse to do that job. He is the president of Workplace Safety and Health and an expert on asbestos. It is one thing to pick up after a fire, it is a whole new ball game when dealing with millions of burnt asbestos particles.

“Like I said before, a fiber that can be suspended in the air for many hours is one of the reasons asbestos is very toxic.”

Griffith said there is indisputable proof that asbestos will cause cancer. Who will get it and when depends on the person and exposure to asbestos.

And the question lingering in the neighborhoods that are littered with asbestos – “When will the debris be cleaned up?”

“There are millions and billions of asbestos in the air. This is what you can see. What we can’t see is what is gonna hurt us.” added one concerned resident.

If you find asbestos, wet it down, put on gloves and put on mask before you attempt to pick it up yourself. Or you can just wait until crews begin scouring the neighborhoods and come around and pick it up for you.

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Recycling plant owners to pick up asbestos after fire

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

Asbestos removal

It has been revealed plans to make Tasmania asbestos-free could cost the State Government more than $1 billion.

There is a national push to ensure all public buildings are asbestos-free by 2030.

The head of Tasmania’s Workplace Safety watchdog says it could cost taxpayers $1.4 billion.

Roy Ormerod told a Senate inquiry that Housing Tasmania estimates it will need to spend $400 million, the Education Department between $200 million and $1 billion and the Health Department $7 million.

“At the end of the day you’ve really got to get this stuff out of these buildings,” Mr Ormerod said.

Last month the Workplace Relations Minister David O’Byrne said the Government was still trying to work out the cost of the plan.

The Local Government Association has warned councils will not have the money to carry out the plan over the next 17 years.

Meanwhile Tasmania’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the proposal is unsafe and unreasonable.

Spokesman Phil Bayley says forcing businesses to comply with the proposed deadline could lead to money being diverted away from other safety initiatives.

He has told ABC Local Radio, Tasmanian businesses that have an asbestos problem are already doing a good job of managing the risk.

“The deadline’s not helpful, because what it does is it actually imposes an arbitrary deadline that doesn’t actually count for what the best management practices are on any given worksite and it’s also uncosted,” Mr Bayley said.

“And as I said it actually diverts money from higher priority occupational health and safety initiatives.”

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Asbestos removal

High cost of asbestos removal

It has been revealed plans to make Tasmania asbestos-free could cost the State Government more than $1 billion.

There is a national push to ensure all public buildings are asbestos-free by 2030.

The head of Tasmania’s Workplace Safety watchdog says it could cost taxpayers $1.4 billion.

Roy Ormerod told a Senate inquiry that Housing Tasmania estimates it will need to spend $400 million, the Education Department between $200 million and $1 billion and the Health Department $7 million.

“At the end of the day you’ve really got to get this stuff out of these buildings,” Mr Ormerod said.

Last month the Workplace Relations Minister David O’Byrne said the Government was still trying to work out the cost of the plan.

The Local Government Association has warned councils will not have the money to carry out the plan over the next 17 years.

Meanwhile Tasmania’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the proposal is unsafe and unreasonable.

Spokesman Phil Bayley says forcing businesses to comply with the proposed deadline could lead to money being diverted away from other safety initiatives.

He has told ABC Local Radio, Tasmanian businesses that have an asbestos problem are already doing a good job of managing the risk.

“The deadline’s not helpful, because what it does is it actually imposes an arbitrary deadline that doesn’t actually count for what the best management practices are on any given worksite and it’s also uncosted,” Mr Bayley said.

“And as I said it actually diverts money from higher priority occupational health and safety initiatives.”

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High cost of asbestos removal