Asbestos fears at Perth Children’s Hospital: Site cleared for workers to return

The Perth Children’s Hospital is safe for workers to return to following an asbestos contamination scare last week, according to evaluation by an independent expert.

A worker told ABC radio he drove home in his car on Monday covered in dust that could have spread to a child seat and had hugged his two-year-old daughter when he got home.

A worker told ABC radio he drove home in his car on Monday covered in dust that could have spread to a child seat and had hugged his two-year-old daughter when he got home.

Last week it was discovered the hospital’s concrete roof panels supplied by Chinese building and manufacturing firm Yuanda contained asbestos, sparking fears workers had been exposed to the potentially deadly material.

A statement from auditors Independent Air Quality Solutions (IAQS) released today said, outside of the level eight link bridge and the level seven link bridge on the north balcony, the project posed no elevated health risk to workers.

Asbestos-containing roof panels on the Perth project had been cut to allow installation of ventilation.

IAQS has conducted continuous air quality monitoring and found just one asbestos fibre on the seventh floor.

There was also no asbestos dust present in any surface area tested outside of the immediately affected area.

It said all areas except the two link bridges could be returned to full operational areas.

It comes after more than 400 construction workers signed a union asbestos register in the wake of the revelations.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) state secretary, Mick Buchan, said around 450 construction workers had signed the union’s register.

“Everyone is sort of in shock. Still in shock that something like this can happen in 2016, particularly on a State Government project, where you would think control measures would have been in place,” Mr Buchan said.

He said the CMFEU had not been permitted to access the site to assess the situation but this had not stopped it carrying out its own investigation.

Mr Buchan said an information session would be held for members who were most concerned.

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“The social impacts, the psychological impacts, we’ve had a lot of social media commentary from members or their families saying where does this leave me? Where does this leave the family?”

Yuanda supplied the panels to lead contractor John Holland and at least 10 other buildings in WA built with products from the firm are now being investigated for asbestos risks.

Just days earlier, Yuanda was found to have used asbestos-tainted gaskets sourced from China in Brisbane’s new government tower.

The Australian agency responsible for stopping asbestos at the border has since revealed it was only testing a fraction of shipments each year for the substance.

Call for release of asbestos review findings

WA Treasurer Mike Nahan wants the Federal Government to release an independent review into asbestos border control that was conducted by KGH Border Services.

Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton ordered the review in February and his office said the department was still considering the findings.

Dr Nahan said he planned to call on the Government to release it once the federal ministry was sworn in.

“I think Peter needs to be sworn in as the minister first. We do have a caretaker government,” he said.

“I am sure they will release it.”

WA Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said the State Government should demand the report’s release.

“The workforce who’ve been exposed to asbestos deserve answers,” he said.

“Release everything so people can have their minds put at rest or … at least be well informed about what the potential health implications are.”

Impact on hospital opening date unknown

The WA Government plans to begin accepting outpatients to the $1.2 billion hospital in October as part of a staged opening process.

WA Health Minister John Day could not rule out an opening date delay due to the asbestos discovery.

“I am confident at this stage but of course we do need to get other advice as to whether that can be achieved,” he said.

“I haven’t been given any other information to indicate otherwise.”

Source: ABC News

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