Australia has the highest reported per capita incidence of asbestos-related disease in the world. Although asbestos was banned almost a decade ago, sadly, about 600 Australians die from asbestos-related diseases each year and it remains a major health hazard to the community at large.
Following the recent AGM of the Tasmanian Branch of the Safety Institute of Australia, State Senator Lisa Singh discussed Australia’s approach to asbestos management. She spoke about Australia’s lead in international forums to stop asbestos mining and use of asbestos in product manufacturing. As the former Tasmanian Minister for Workplace Safety, she initiated considerable reform to help those affected by asbestos.
It is good to see that awareness around the safe management of asbestos has been elevated in recent times through a number of developments, from Safe Work Australia’s rollout of national competency units for working with asbestos and the NSW Government’s establishment of the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities, through to federal government’s comprehensive Asbestos Management Review and subsequent creation of an Office of Asbestos Safety.
As SafeWork SA acting executive director Juanita Lovatt notes in this newsletter, the harmful effects of asbestos fibres cannot be underestimated, and the safe removal of asbestos is crucial for everyone in the community. A more concerted effort to increase awareness of the dangers of asbestos and eradicate this hazard from our lives should be the priority of all.