On Friday 18th May the presence of friable Asbestos was identified in Building #3 at Hornsby Depot. We were notified by our workplace delegate David Learoyd. As a result, the ETU placed an immediate ban on all access to Building 3 until further notice.
Ausgrid have since contacted the union and are moving to put measures in place to deal with the asbestos material in the building as well as ascertain the nature of potential exposure of employees to the asbestos and what measures can be taken to deal with this exposure.
After having several discussions with our depot delegate as well as contact from Ausgrid managers, this afternoon I wrote to Ausgrid with an initial view on what the union expects as a result. Below in blue is the text of that correspondence;
My understanding is that there are significant amounts of asbestos containing material throughout Building 3 at Hornsby. It is also my understanding that falling dust from the ceiling has been an ongoing problem identified by staff in that building for many years without concrete action to rectify.
The fact that there has now been a positive identification of friable asbestos debris and significant amounts of asbestos in the building and that such a known hazard has been allowed to persist for so long is of great concern to the ETU. Following are our initial requirements;
1. Please write to us with a detailed plan of what Ausgrid proposes to do to with respect to;
a) The methodology used to identify all employees and their families who have been exposed to the substance.
b) The screening of those employees and their families of exposure and the possible ingestion of asbestos fibres.
c) De contamination of associated equipment, vehicles and clothes.
d) Medical assessment of the likely impact of potential exposure if that ingestion of asbestos is unascertainable.
e) Counselling for staff who require it.
f) Compensation to staff for exposure.
2. Removal of all asbestos from Building 3 prior to any staff being allowed entry or demolition of Building 3 in accordance with the “hierarchy of controls” contained Ausgrid’s hazard assessment and removal protocol i.e. 1. “engineering out the hazard”.
3. Steps taken to identify asbestos which may exist in other parts of Hornsby Depot and the rest of Ausgrid’s infrastructure and their contemporary state.
4. Site lead delegate Dave Learoyd to be present at all management meetings concerning this issue.
Monday 28th May. Hornsby Depot.
Meeting between myself Dave Learoyd, Stephen Lillis and Craig Hersant and others involved to update us on the progress of the issue in the context of the above points and other points Ausgrid may have considered.
Meeting between myself and all Hornsby based employees and other employees that may have been exposed to report back on progress.
It is our view that Ausgrid have dropped the ball with respect to asbestos management and that the Memorandum of Understanding from a few years back regarding the resourcing of the Asbestos Management Unit has not been adhered to. As a result, we will be redoubling our efforts to ensure that asbestos is escalated as a priority for Ausgrid and that the memorandum document is adhered to.
In the meantime, if members have any information regarding asbestos hazards which the organisation is not aware of please contact me with the details.