Asbestos was widely integrated into buildings throughout Australia up to the end of the 1980s. The material was phased out afterwards, but was not banned by the government until 2003. The reason for implementing the ban was health-related; the inhalation of asbestos fibres contributes to diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.
School facilities, particularly those constructed before the 1990s, are likely to have incorporated asbestos materials. If the asbestos is not removed, it will present a safety hazard for students and employees of the school.
Recent Asbestos Cases in Educational Facilities
In Canberra, a parent raised concerns about a school that was found to have asbestos deposits in the schoolyard. The directorate of the school defended their decision to not alert parents immediately by saying they waited for the confirmation of the local authorities first, and that they were unaware of any asbestos used in the construction of the school. Parents were concerned, given that the garden beds where the asbestos was found were easily accessible to children.
The following week, similar deposits were found in the garden area of a nearby school, with asbestos mixed into gravel. The school immediately fenced off the contaminated area, taking the necessary safety precautions. They enlisted the help of asbestos specialists to conduct an investigation regarding the origin of the material and its risk level.
Safety Hazards of Asbestos Deposits
Asbestos deposits in sound structures pose little risk. However, when they are disturbed because of construction, decay or breakage, airborne fibres can be inhaled, which can lead to serious respiratory and abdominal diseases. Factors include the length of exposure time, the amount of inhaled fibres and the frequency of exposure. This disturbance can happen in schools, especially when they are undergoing maintenance or renovations.
For example, prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibres can lead to Mesothelioma, a disease that affects the wall of the lungs and causes cancer. The swallowed fibres can also affect the stomach and the bowel, damaging the lining of the abdomen. So far, the only identified cause of Mesothelioma is asbestos. After initial exposure, it can take up to 45 years to fully develop.
Government Regulations against Asbestos
The government imposes regulations and procedures for the proper treatment and removal of asbestos in different sectors. In partnership with WorkSafe Australia, the Department of Environmental Regulation and the Department of Health, industry-specific agencies like the Department of Education, and the Department of Finance provide management and support services to deal with asbestos cases.
Together with licensed asbestos specialists, they seek to address the safety concerns of managers running facilities with asbestos deposits.
Trusted Asbestos Removal Specialists
At EOSH Consulting, we offer occupational health and safety services across multiple sectors, helping provide safer working and living space for our clients. We specialise in operations regarding the treatment of asbestos in work areas, including asbestos removal, asbestos air monitoring, marine asbestos management, asbestos testing and inspection, hazardous materials management and others. Apart from these services, we also specialise in contaminated land, occupational hygiene, safety management and the monitoring of contaminants. We are the trusted asbestos removal specialists in Perth, offering smart, practical and cost-effective safety solutions for everyone.
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