An estimated 4,000 Australians die annually from asbestos-related diseases. It’s about time we do things the right way when it comes to asbestos disposal.
That is the message SafeWork is sending this National Asbestos Awareness Week, which runs from 21-27 November.
The theme in 2022 reminds Australians to Think Twice About Asbestos and targets home occupiers and tradespeople to do things the right way by ensuring proper and lawful disposal of asbestos.
Public events include an interactive forum jointly presented by SafeWork SA and Asbestos Coalition of South Australia that will provide insights into discovery from the 2022 Asbestos Management campaign.
Asbestos Diseases Society of South Australia is commemorating victims of asbestos at the Memorial Day on Friday, 25 November at Jack Watkins Reserve, Kilburn.
Also on 25 November, the Asbestos Victims Association (SA) will hold its annual memorial service at Pitman Park, Salisbury, to remember the locals who worked at the nearby James Hardie factory and were subsequently diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.
Deaths from asbestos-related diseases in Australia each year are nearly four times greater that the annual road toll.
Asbestos is present in one in three Australian homes, as well as public and commercial buildings.
According to the asbestos.sa.gov.au website, if your house or workplace was built or renovated from the mid-1980s to 1990, it is likely it has asbestos-containing products.
Martyn Campbell, Executive Director of SafeWork SA and Chair of the South Australian Asbestos Action Plan (SA AAP) said Asbestos Awareness Week is the time to commit to elimination of asbestos-related diseases in Australia.
‘Australia still has one of the highest death rates of asbestos-related diseases per capita in the world,’ he said.
‘We have a responsibility to protect the long-term future health of South Australian residents. Regulators, government departments, industry, workers, organisations and the community at large will all need to work together to make the state safe from asbestos.’
SafeWork SA has a crucial role in working towards a state free of asbestos-related diseases.
The agency enforces compliance with asbestos regulations, including prohibition and improvement notices, licence suspension and cancellations, expiations and even prosecution.
Asbestos causes cancer and if not disposed of properly it puts workers and the community’s health at risk.
The 2021 Asbestos Snapshot found that residential properties accounted for about 65 per cent of South Australian removals with Adelaide, Modbury, Woodville, Whyalla and Salisbury being the localities with the highest number of removal notifications.
In 2021, SafeWork SA received 6310 asbestos removal notifications, which is an 8 per cent increase in notifications compared to the previous year.
‘Illegally dumped asbestos puts an unnecessary strain on public resources; resources that could be better spent on other vital community services,’ said Mr Campbell.
Further information on asbestos can be found on the South Australian Government asbestos website which provides practical information about asbestos, how to identify it, and how to have it safely removed.