Tests have confirmed the presence of asbestos fibres at the Sydney Opera House, prompting the union to instruct electricians to immediately stop working on the $200 million renovation of the icon.
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) ban covers any work that involves accessing risers and penetrations that carry electrical services between floors and through walls, as well as work on troffer ceiling lights.
Builder Laing O'Rourke and electrical contractor Downer were reportedly told of the possible presence of asbestos last Monday, with subsequent tests confirming the presence of the deadly fibres that are capable of being inhaled by workers.
ETU NSW assistant secretary Justin Page said that despite the presence of asbestos being confirmed nearly a week ago, nearly all of Downer electricians had still not received asbestos awareness training or been provided with procedures for safely working with asbestos.
“The union is extremely concerned that, nearly a week after tests confirmed the presence of asbestos in work areas, the builder Laing O'Rourke and electrical contractor Downer have failed to undertake adequate risk assessments,” Mr Page said today.
“Alarmingly, it took several days for the union to be informed of this serious issue while SafeWork NSW has still not been contacted by the companies, despite it constituting a reportable safety incident.
“The union has today written to all members advising them of an immediate ban on any work on site involving risers, penetrations, and troffer lights.”
Mr Page said the union was demanding a full risk assessment along with immediate training for all workers ensuring they are aware of how to deal with the asbestos risk identified.
“Laing O'Rourke and Downer have a legal and moral obligation to ensure every worker at the Opera House who is at risk of asbestos exposure has proper training in safe work methods along with full personal protective equipment before having them work in areas where asbestos is likely to be present,” he said.
“The union takes asbestos safety extremely seriously given medical research has confirmed that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, with even a single fibre capable of causing deadly cancer.
“It is alarming that on a major NSW Government-funded project we have seen such disregard for appropriate safety standards, putting workers at serious risk.”
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2017
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