Mark McCabe, the Australian Capital Territory work safety commissioner, is pushing for on-the-spot fines to be introduced for any person who is caught illegally removing asbestos. McCabe has confirmed this has been a serious concern with the number of builders not safely removing and disposing asbestos increasing.
The only punishment for these builders at the moment is court action against them and McCabe thinks on-the-spot fines will be more effective in putting a stop to this behaviour. He has said these fines should be up to $5,000. This is because if these fines are only small, builders are likely to choose to take the risk and remove asbestos illegally rather then spend the money on getting licensed removalists to dispose of the asbestos.
There are a huge number of houses in Australia that contain asbestos but this is safe when the asbestos is not disturbed. However when these houses are renovated, knocked down and rebuilt, and asbestos is not managed appropriately, this is when asbestos may pose a health risk. People who are exposed to asbestos maybe diagnosed with an asbestos related diseases years after. Some of these diseases include asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
There have been many cases of builders in Australia who go on to develop asbestos related conditions such as mesothelioma and asbestos related pleural disease. Home renovators are also at risk. Mesothelioma in Australia is a real concern, and it is hoped that home renovators and builders are aware of risks of asbestos to ensure the appropriate safety measures are implemented.