Bill's Media Releases

Independent Monitoring of Asbestos Removal

Fourteen monitors will be recruited around Australia to report to the independent Asbestos Taskforce, checking the removal and handling of asbestos in Telstra pits.

This initiative, agreed by the Independent Asbestos Taskforce, will verify that work on the NBN rollout that may involve asbestos-containing materials is conducted in a way that ensures the safety of employees, contractors, nearby residents and the general public.

The Taskforce was established by the Australian Government in June to monitor the ongoing activities of Telstra and prevent exposure to asbestos.

Minister for Workplace Relations Bill Shorten said “asbestos is a cruel, indiscriminate killer and because of its widespread use over much of the 20th century, it remains a persistent threat to Australians”.

“The Government views the identification and safe removal of asbestos as an absolute priority.”

“I welcome the progress made by the taskforce to put in place measures to reduce exposure,” Minister Shorten said.

Telstra and NBN Co have worked with the Taskforce to enhance industry asbestos training packages.

Asbestos awareness training is being rolled out to Telstra employees. All employees, contractors and subcontractors working in Telstra pits will be trained in safe removal and handling of asbestos-containing materials.

Telstra and NBN Co confirmed this week that they are finalising a competency card that employees, contractors and subcontractors will need to carry to certify they are fully trained.

Work on pits containing asbestos-containing materials will resume once that training has been completed.

The taskforce has met on five occasions, and is headed by Geoff Fary (Chair, Asbestos Management Review). Its membership includes representatives from Telstra, NBN Co., the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA), Comcare, industry unions, asbestos community support groups and work, health and safety experts.

The Government established the first National Asbestos Exposure Register to capture the details of members of the community who think they may have been exposed to asbestos containing materials.

The register is managed by ASEA and is available at www.asbestossafety.gov.au.

If residents or businesses wish to report suspected asbestos containing material, please call the national work health and safety regulator, Comcare, on 1800 888 468.

Media Contact: Jessica Lindell 0408 842 604