Survey finds asbestos still a threat to Victorian workplaces

A major survey of OHS representatives in Victoria has discovered that asbestos continues be a prolific threat to workplaces.

The survey, conducted by Victoria’s leading asbestos disease support and advocacy groups polled 295 representatives from a range of industries in October.

According to David Clement of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Victoria (ADSVIC) the results are a startling reminder of the danger asbestos still poses in 2010.

“Seventy-two percent (72%) of our respondents indicated it was likely they had been exposed to asbestos. Forty-two percent (42%) of those said they had been exposed at their current or previous workplace,”

The results made public on the first day of the Australian Asbestos Awareness Week (Monday 22nd of November to Friday 26th of November) found that most respondents lacked the knowledge or awareness of how to deal with asbestos.

“Sixty-two percent (62%)  thought there wasn’t an asbestos register at their workplace or didn’t know there was one. More than half did not know there was a plan to remove asbestos from their workplace.

“This is a serious problem. It tells us that even though Victorians have and continue to be exposed to asbestos at work, in many cases they don’t know who to report it to.” Mr Clement said.

In November the Federal Government announced a new Asbestos Management Review.

Despite the creation of the Review, the survey results add weight to calls for the creation of a national asbestos authority.

A national authority would work towards boosting education in industries and workplaces. It would establish national registers and audit those registers.

The Asbestos Management Review is an excellent start but a national authority is needed to improve awareness in specific sectors. 

It would prioritise the training of young workers and apprentices in asbestos exposure and reportage. Enabling us to protect the next generation of workers from this deadly fibre.

22 November 2010