Business owner and employee fined thousands following work on asbestos roof

Business owner and employee fined thousands following work on asbestos roof

An owner of a general handyman business and a worker have been sentenced in the Holland Park Magistrates Court for various breaches of the Work Health and Safety Act (“the Act) following works undertaken by them on a roof found to have contained asbestos.

The business had been engaged to clean, seal and paint a roof at a residential premises.

Despite the roof varying in height from 3.077 metres to 5.079 metres, no risk assessment was undertaken in relation to falling from heights. Consequently, no fall protection measures were in place when the pair commenced work on the roof.

Further, the business had no existing policies or procedures relating to working with asbestos, nor did the business owner or the employee hold any licences or qualifications for dealing with asbestos.

Over two days, the pair took turns using a pressure hose to clean the roof. During the task, debris from the roof was spread across the property and adjacent properties.

On the second day, a tenant observed the activity and contacted Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) as she believed the roof contained asbestos.

WHSQ attended the site on the same day and took samples that were found to contain asbestos.

An improvement notice was issued for the removal of the asbestos material to be carried out by a suitably qualified licence holder.

The business initially paid an amount of $8,265.95 relating to remedial work but subsequently advised WHSQ that it could not afford to pay for the balance of the remedial work, which amounted to $44,335.28.

During the WHSQ investigation, the worker admitted that he had suspicions the roof may have contained asbestos.

Before Magistrate Sue Ganasan, WHSQ tendered evidence that asbestos-safe materials could have been purchased to assist in the task for just over $1,350.

Magistrate Ganasan determined that the owner of the business breached sections 19(1) and 32, sections 19(1) and 33, and sections 19(2) and 33 of the Act. She imposed a fine of $5,000 for all offences, and a two-year court order in the sum of $25,000 was imposed.

The magistrate determined that the worker breached sections 28(b) and 32 and sections 28(b) and 33 of the Act. She ordered the worker to complete 60 hours of community service within 12 months, and a two-year court order in the sum of $15,000 was imposed.

A conviction was not recorded against either the owner or the worker.

Two individuals sentenced following high pressure water spray being used on asbestos roof | owhsp

For queries about safety, working at heights, asbestos removal, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178, 1300 WAL LAW or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

Ref: 407.0224

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