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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . .

Page.. 3119..

tradespeople who may undertake work there that the loose asbestos insulation has been removed from the premises. I understand these stickers were sent out to affected home owners this morning, together with information to assist people in installing them and a summary of their obligations. Importantly, home owners who might have had difficulty installing the stickers can seek assistance to do so.

Of course, so much about worker safety comes down to good education, safe work practices and training to ensure early identification of danger or risk and ensure safe handling of dangerous substances. That is why the ACT government has led the way nationally through mandated asbestos awareness training, a nationally accredited course for any profession which presents a risk of accidental contact with disturbed or loose-fill asbestos.

On 25 June this year, the government announced new laws mandating that all workers who might be exposed must undertake asbestos awareness training by 30 September this year. The course was developed by the Australian Capital Territory construction industry training council. It has been recognised as being of high quality throughout Australia and is nationally recognised by the Australian Skills Quality Authority.

From 1 October, this awareness course is mandatory for a number of different types of professions, and the requirement extends beyond the construction industry. Contact with different types of asbestos is a risk that many workers face, even though they are not employed in the construction industry. For example, a pest control worker who is conducting an assessment of a building is quite likely to have need of going into the ceiling cavity or underneath a house. The course has been very popular and has been taken up by registered training organisations. I am pleased with this development so far and remain committed to improving the safety outcomes of all workers in the territory.

MS BERRY: Minister, does this course permit a person who has attended the course to work with asbestos?

MR GENTLEMAN: No, it does not. This course does not qualify a person to undertake remediation or removal of asbestos, nor does it permit any member of the workforce to undertake work that will disturb asbestos while undertaking other work.

It does importantly ensure that workers are able to quickly and safely identify different types of asbestos and to act appropriately. The course gives an introduction to what asbestos is and where it can be found. It also gives an explanation of the health hazards associated with asbestos exposure. Some of these include asbestosis, which is the progressive and irreversible scarring of lung tissue that impairs breathing; lung cancer; mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the linings around the lungs and abdomen; and other non-cancerous diseases that affect the linings around the lungs. Many of these diseases can take up to 50 years to develop, so it is important that all workers who take this course are aware of the health risks and the time which can pass before any signs of illness become apparent.

If a worker is interested in becoming accredited for either assessment or remediation work of buildings affected by asbestos, there are other courses which are designed for this purpose.

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