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SafeWork NSW has issued a prohibition notice to Blue Mountains City Council in relation to asbestos at a site in Wentworth Falls.
The Day Street site is owned by Blue Mountains Council and occupied by a pre-school.
Two SafeWork NSW inspectors visited the premises yesterday following media reports about asbestos safety issues. Their inspection revealed asbestos cement sheeting (fibro) in the roof of the covered entrance that was weathered and in poor condition.
SafeWork NSW Executive Director Peter Dunphy said council has consequently been issued with a prohibition notice in relation to the premises.
“The notice requires council to contract a licensed asbestos assessor to conduct a full and thorough inspection of the site,” Mr Dunphy said.
“The purpose is to identify and assess the condition of all asbestos-containing materials, and to put in place appropriate controls to safely manage those materials,” he said.
“The site will be closed while this assessment is carried out and the weathered asbestos-containing material at the entrance is safely removed.”
Mr Dunphy said when fibro or other bonded asbestos sheeting is broken, damaged or mishandled, fibres can become loose and airborne and may pose a potential risk to health.
“We believe the risk is likely to be low and the pre-school has been closed as a precaution; however, a full assessment is absolutely necessary to ensure any asbestos at the site is identified and managed appropriately,” he said.
We believe the risk is likely to be low and the pre-school has been closed as a precautionSafeWork NSW
“SafeWork is liaising with NSW Health to assist in providing health information to local parents and children.”
Mr Dunphy said council has a legal obligation to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that its workplaces and the workplace facilities it owns do not pose health or safety risks to workers or visitors.
“SafeWork takes all asbestos issues very seriously, and will continue to engage with Blue Mountains City Council about asbestos safety issues at Council facilities,” he said.
Blue Mountains City Council posted the following statement on its Facebook page:
“This temporary closure is related to the management of asbestos containing material at the preschool, on the advice of SafeWork NSW.
“We sincerely apologise for the late notice, and the inconvenience and disruption that this will cause.
“Council officers will be on site tomorrow [Wednesday] to answer parent/caregiver questions relating to the temporary closure. Otherwise, please telephone Council on 4780 5000 for further information.
“Be assured we are attending to this as a matter of urgency, in consultation with SafeWork NSW, and will advise families as circumstances change.”
To access asbestos-related health information, visit http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/factsheets/Pages/asbestos-and-health-risks.aspx.