Do you have an OHS strategy in place for Asbestos in your school?

An independent audit and review have found that asbestos exposure continues to be a problem for Queensland schools due to negligence and flaws in the way the hazardous substance is managed.

Criticisms have been directed at the State Government for a lack of enforcement of its policies and procedures on asbestos, with auditor John Gaskin making 13 recommendations.

Among the recommendation are training for principals and volunteers, a compliance plan for contractors, and an incident management plan for schools.

Separate incidents at schools in Mackay and Indooroopilly had involved fears of asbestos exposure to students and teachers, including an instance where students had to shower in their uniforms after the collapse of a ceiling that contained asbestos.

“The issues that contributed to the occurrence of these incidents included lack of communication, poor understanding of DET (Department of Education and Training) policies and procedures, and non-compliance with Workplace Health and Safety legislation by contractors,” Mr Gaskin said.

“An area of risk which needs to be addressed is the contractors and others who may be employed to carry out normal maintenance work in schools, or do so on a voluntary basis, as asbestos issues could arise through these activities.

“Principals are to be aware of any contractors employed on a day-to-day basis who undertake building or maintenance-related works of any description.”

According to Mr Gaskin, there is currently no requirement for reviewing a contractor’s compliance with BSA (Building Services Authority) licensing or asbestos management qualifications.

Education Minister Geoff Wilson said all the recommendations will be adopted, including a lifetime ban for negligent contractors.

“Any individual or organisation found to have contravened regulations in relation to working with asbestos will be dealt with severely,” he said.

“This includes the option of being indefinitely banned from performing future work on, or in Department of Education and Training Facilities.”

Source: http://www.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/06/qld-recommendations-given-for-asbestos-concerns-in-schools/

Published by: LMIT

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