New Asbestos Guidelines To Protect Workers

The Andrews Labor Government welcomes WorkSafe’s release of new guidelines to assist workers who are removing or replacing asbestos-cement pipes.

The new guidelines are clear – any asbestos waste created by pipeline removal or replacement must be disposed of in accordance with occupational health and safety regulations.

Any method of pipe management which may result in potentially harmful asbestos in the environment should not be accepted. The Labor Government is committed to ensuring that this practice ceases.

Asbestos-cement fragments are left buried in the ground when replacing pipelines using the pipe bursting technique. Five Victorian water authorities have used this technique, and one other uses it as a last resort.

WorkSafe’s guidelines clarify that the only option for replacing or removing pipelines is to remove all asbestos fragments as a result of pipe bursting, or use an alternative method.

Water authorities are also required to keep and update registers of where asbestos is buried in the ground and where pipe bursting has been used, to minimise the risk of future disturbance of buried asbestos.

There is no compromise for safety, and wherever possible the Labor Government will ensure that the safety of workers, and the Victorian community more generally, is always a clear priority.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Finance, Robin Scott

 “The new guidelines are clear – if corporations continue pipe bursting, they must ensure all asbestos-cement fragments are removed and disposed of.”

“Workplace safety is our priority.”