The costs of cleaning up after Cyclone Marcia could be more than financial if people don’t take the right precautions with asbestos in their damaged homes. It’s an important warning for homeowners and construction workers in the aftermath of the category five cyclone Marcia that hit Central Queensland in February. 

Often the reaction is just to pitch in and help clear everything as quickly as possible. But asbestos needs to be handled in the right way. In Yeppoon and Rockhampton areas – the communities hit hardest by the cyclone – many homes were built before 1989 and could contain asbestos or fibro sheeting.

Health and safety requirements

Construction work requirements in the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (WHS Regulation) apply to demolition work generally, however, where the structure to be demolished contains asbestos, there are some additional requirements that apply.

Licensed asbestos removal work

Section 466 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 requires a licensed asbestos removalist to give written notice to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) of licensed asbestos removal work at least five days before the work commences.

However, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has a class exemption for the notification of licensed asbestos removal work due to flooding or severe weather conditions (section 466, WHS Regulation 2011). The class exemption is in effect until 5 February 2018.

The guidelines state there are times when the asbestos materials may not be able to be removed before emergency demolition. An emergency occurs if:

·        A structure or plant is structurally unsound
·        Collapse of the structure is imminent.

Information on asbestos removal and demolition, training, personal protective equipment, notification, and disposal of asbestos waste, and more, can be found on the WorkSafe website.

Asbestos related injury claims

WorkCover Queensland Industry Manager Construction, Melanie Stojanovic said diseases caused by exposure to asbestos, such as mesothelioma or certain cancers can have a significant impact on a worker’s health. To receive compensation for these types of diseases, the disease must have been caused by exposure to asbestos in the course of employment, while working in Queensland.

Information from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and WorkCover Queensland

More information:
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland asbestos guidelines

Asbestos notifications

WorkCover Queensland asbestos related diseases