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The following article is a general news item provided for the benefit of members. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the Safety Institute of Australia.
Date: 
Wednesday, 31 October, 2018 - 11:30
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
National News
Northern Territory

Darwin-based manufacturing and building company Northern Transportables has committed to spend more than $200,000 to improve asbestos awareness and safety in the Northern Territory after being charged with illegal asbestos removal.

NT WorkSafe has accepted an enforceable undertaking from Northern Transportables and will withdraw five charges laid earlier this year.

NT WorkSafe alleges that in October and November 2015, Northern Transportables were contracted to refurbish three properties and allowed unlicensed workers to remove asbestos from two of the properties without training or appropriate safety equipment, despite knowing the properties contained asbestos.

Under the legally-binding agreement, Northern Transportables will spend $213,050 on activities to improve the health and safety of its workers, the NT construction industry and provide benefits to the wider community.

These activities include:

  • Undertake employee safety climate surveys
  • Create workplace safety training videos and online induction training
  • Undertake safety leadership training for all managers and supervisors
  • Employ a Senior Business Safety Strategist
  • Create a dedicated safety page on the company website and publish for industry use asbestos safety strategies, and other safety resources
  • Fund asbestos awareness training for Northern Territory manufacturing, building and construction industry apprentices
  • Produce an asbestos awareness video
  • Provide $20,000 towards Vocational Education and Training (VET) Scholarships for Charles Darwin University students.

Acting executive director of NT WorkSafe Chris Wicks said health effects of asbestos exposure have been well documented many decades which was why specific regulations covering asbestos existed under the work, health and safety laws.

“Despite this, an element of complacency still remains in some sections of industry and society when it came to the safe removal of asbestos,” Wicks said.

“The enforceable undertaking was accepted because it included a number of education and awareness raising activities which hopefully will address this complacency by raising awareness and reinforce the dangers of asbestos.”

“Northern Transportables has expressed sincere regret that the incident occurred and has already spent an additional $33,180 to rectify the situation,” Wicks said.

“The accepted undertaking also contained activities aimed at building the capacity of young Territory apprentices which would not be available through a court imposed penalty.”