Thursday, 30 May 2013

A ridiculous over-reaction to Asbestos

On Bigpond news today: Thursday, May 30, 2013 » 07:05am
Workplace safety regulators have ordered a halt at several NBN construction sites amid asbestos fears.

 Federal workplace safety regulators have reportedly ordered a halt at several National Broadband Network construction sites amid asbestos contamination fears.

Comcare has told News Limited it issued stop-work orders at multiple locations, and expected to issue more in connection with work on the NBN.

The move comes after a resident in Penrith, west of Sydney, contacted the NSW WorkCover authority with concerns that asbestos safety procedures weren't being followed.

News Ltd on Thursday reported Comcare had confirmed one case in which Telstra had not applied proper risk assessments to its work on the 'pits' that are crucial to the network.

In addition to the Penrith incident, News Ltd said there were allegations of asbestos release at work sites in Ballarat, in Victoria, and in Hobart.

It is in regard to cement insulation that contained Asbestos. They were used to line pits for phone lines.  It is now being removed, apparently without the precautions now deemed necessary. So big scandal, demands for reparations, owners of houses told to get out 'immediately' and claiming to be terrified of the effects of their 'exposure.' One said, "What if I tracked the fibres into my house?' There are even suggestions that Telstra  (the Australian phone corporation)  pay to replace carpet!  An idiot reporter was grilling the Telstra boss as if he'd committed mass murder!  
But think about it!  Asbestos is a component of a building material, very commonly used in the past.  Three quarters of Australia's population would have come in contact with that and similar products for many years - living in fibro houses, ('fibro' contains Asbestos) installing and living with insulation products containing Asbestos, working with cars that had asbestos as part of brake linings -  all sorts of other things.  There was Asbestos everywhere.   If it was anywhere near as toxic as they now say it is, Australia would not - could not possibly - have so many old people.
So now what's happening?
Telstra boss has apologised and acknowledged their grievous error. The job will cost millions of dollars extra, all of which will be paid by us - the tax payers.  All for a ridiculous trifle.

Asbestosis:  A serious and terminal disease which has affected Asbestos miners. though usually many years after exposure. It does not happen to a person because they once lived in a fibro house, it does not affect a child who plays with broken bits of fibro - I'm pretty sure I remember doing that myself,  it has not even affected a man I know who used to be a mechanic and remembers covering his face while blowing dust particles containing Asbestos from the brake linings of cars. (I may not have that precisely right - it was something like that.)


People just need to use a little perspective. Look at all the old people who survived routine exposure, and don't go into a panic because some tradies were tossing old Asbestos cement onto a truck. It is not going to kill you, it is not going to kill the tradies, and there is no need to put millions of dollars away in a fund in case some householder nearby gets lung disease thirty years down the track.


Just - have a bit of sense, people! 


Look for my books on Smashwords, on Amazon or on other online retailers.



  1. While I agree that the hysteria is being blown out of all proportion, even minimal exposure to asbestos fibres is enough, if one lodges in your lungs. Asbestos isn't dangerous in houses etc when it remains undisturbed. That's the issue here. It does need to be treated carefully, with respect.

  2. As far as I am aware the crux of the matter is the type of asbestos. If it is the toxic kind then as Greta has said one small particle lodging in the lungs will come back many years later as a lethal disease. Yes, in this day and age there is silly fuss about many many things - climbing ladders, not wearing safety jackets etc. etc. but I would hate to think that someone could be robbed of a satisfactory and enjoyable old age because someone cut corners, especially when an alarm had been raised. Over the top maybe yes, but surely better safe than very sorry. - Interesting post.

  3. Thank you, Diane and Greta, for your comments.