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Asbestos Awareness Week: Respect Asbestos & Stop Playing Renovation Roulette!

Asbestos Education Committee 9 mins read
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NATIONAL ASBESTOS AWARENESS WEEK: RESPECT ASBESTOS

Asbestos Education Committee urges Aussies to respect asbestos risks to help save lives!

Asbestos Awareness Week 20-26 November - Friday 24 is Asbestos Awareness Day 2023

 

During National Asbestos Awareness Week (20-26 November), Australia’s Asbestos Education Committee is urging DIYers, residents and tradies who renovate homes to respect the ever-present dangers of asbestos to help prevent asbestos-related diseases that kill more than 4,000 Australians every year – 235% more than died on Australian roads in 2022.

 

Clare Collins, Chair of the Asbestos Education Committee said, “With one-in-three homes containing asbestos and with the continuing DIY boom, serious concerns have been raised that DIYers and tradies who renovate homes might be risking their lives and the lives of families by playing renovation roulette if they fail to respect the potentially life-threatening risks if asbestos is not managed safely.”

 

If asbestos-containing materials are disturbed during maintenance, renovation or demolition and minute fibres are released which can be inhaled, this can lead to asbestos-related diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. There is no cure for mesothelioma, a cancer that can develop between 33 and 44 years after inhaling asbestos fibres with the average survival time following diagnosis, just 12 months. 

 

“With a staggering number of deaths each year from asbestos-related diseases and with deaths predicted to continue to rise among workers and those exposed to fibres during renovations; it’s vital that homeowners and tradies respect asbestos risks when renovating any home built before 1990,” she said.

 

“Renovators need to be aware that asbestos fibres were used in the manufacture of more than 3000 building and decorator products that lie hidden in one third of Aussie homes, and that asbestos detection is not included in a standard building report. It’s vital that before homeowners take up tools, they visit www.asbestosawareness.com.au to learn what they need to know to ensure asbestos is managed safely and in line with regulations, and have a licenced asbestos assessor or occupational hygienist inspect your property” said Ms Collins.

 

While many renovators may think that only tradies are at risk of asbestos-related diseases; according to the most recent Australian Mesothelioma Registry (AMR) Report (April 2023), 83% of respondents were assessed as having had ‘possible or probable’ exposure to asbestos fibres in non-occupational settings – primarily homes.

 

Of the patients surveyed, the dominant non-occupational exposure to asbestos fibres (51%) occurred when undertaking major home renovations. 38% said they’d lived in a house undergoing renovations. 20% said they’d lived in the same home as someone who was exposed to asbestos at work and brought the fibres home, and 12% said they’d lived in a house made of fibro that was built between 1947 and 1987.

 

“Most Australians don’t know asbestos-containing products are not just lurking in fibro homes, they were used widely in brick, weatherboard, clad homes and apartments and other structures commonly found on properties including backyard sheds, fences, garages, chook sheds and even dog kennels. It could be anywhere!” she said.

 

If undisturbed, well maintained and in a stable, sealed condition, these products are considered unlikely to pose health risks. However, if disturbed during renovations, maintenance, removal or the demolition of older homes and other structures such as fences, sheds or garages, and minute fibres are released that can be inhaled, homeowners and tradies can be putting their lives and the lives of their families at risk.

 

“We’re urging homeowners and tradies to respect asbestos and avoid risking exposure when renovating older properties by engaging an occupational hygienist or licenced asbestos professionals who are trained to identify, remove and dispose of asbestos safely in accordance with regulations,” Ms Collins said.

 

Cherie Barber, Australia’s Renovation Queen™ and Ambassador for the National Asbestos Awareness Campaign is Australia’s foremost expert on renovating having featured on many current affairs and lifestyle programs and in international media forums over her 30+ year award-winning renovating career.

Cherie who lost her grandfather to asbestos is passionate about educating homeowners and DIYers on how to renovate properties with asbestos safely because she knows the devastating impact it can have on families.

 

“While asbestos remains hidden in one third of Australian homes, it will continue to pose a very real and present danger to homeowners and tradies for many years to come so it’s vital we respect asbestos and manage asbestos-containing materials safely to prevent releasing fibres that can kill.

 

“By respecting the dangers of asbestos, it just may save your life or the life of a loved one,” Ms Barber said.

 

“The bottom line is, if your home was built before 1990 and you suspect it may contain asbestos, before taking up tools engage a licenced asbestos assessor or occupational hygienist to inspect your property and if you need to remove asbestos, only use licenced asbestos removalists who will remove and dispose of it safely,” she said.

 

“It’s time homeowners, renovators and tradies stop being complacent and learn to manage asbestos safely by visiting Australia’s most comprehensive, trusted source of asbestos information, asbestosawareness.com.au.”

 

The website contains an extensive range of free, user-friendly information for homeowners, property managers, renovators and tradies with the newly developed Asbestos 101 for Residential Property Owners, Managers and Tradies education resource developed for anyone who might do work on residential properties.

 

Developed in accordance with government Work Health and Safety Regulations and Codes of Practice, Asbestos 101 for Residential Property Owners, Managers and Tradies is a comprehensive resource that provides Australians with vital information as to why asbestos is dangerous; the risks of working unsafely with ACMs; the steps to take if they come across materials they suspect may contain asbestos; the importance of engaging an occupational hygienist or licenced asbestos assessor to confirm if asbestos is present; and, why it’s vital to only use licenced asbestos removalists to ensure hazardous asbestos materials are removed and disposed of safely in accordance with government regulations.

 

When it comes to asbestos; Don’t cut it! Don’t drill it!  Don’t drop it!  Don’t sand it! Don’t saw it! Don’t scrape it! Don’t scrub it! Don’t dismantle it! Don’t tip it! Don’t waterblast it! Don’t demolish it! And whatever you do...  Don’t dump it! Visit asbestosawareness.com.au - It’s not worth the risk!

 

-ENDS-

INTERVIEW REQUESTS & IMAGES

To access asbestos information and resources refer to the Campaign Notes & Website Quick Links on page 3 or visit asbestosawareness.com.au where high resolution photographs can be downloaded.

 

For detailed Journalist Notes about asbestos risks and resources or to arrange interviews with Cherie Barber or a variety of expert spokespersons and case studies, contact Insight Communications on 02 9518 4744.

Clare Collins: 0414 821 957 w clare@insightcommunications.net.au

Alice Collins:  0414 686 091 w alice@insightcommunications.net.au

 

IMAGES & GRAPHICS

For various images and graphics of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) or Asbestos Awareness Ambassador Cherie Barber, Australia’s Renovation Queen™ visit: https://asbestosawareness.box.com/v/AsbestosAwarenessImages

 HASHTAGS

#AsbestosAwareness #AsbestosAwarenessMonth #RespectAsbestos #RenovationRoulette #RespectAsbestosRisks #StopPlayingRenovationRoulette #DIY #Asbestos #Renovate #Renovating

 

AWARENESS MONTH CAMPAIGN NOTES & WEBSITE QUICK LINKS

NATIONAL ASBESTOS AWARENESS MONTH 2023

Marking 12 years campaigning in the prevention of asbestos-related diseases

2023 marks the 10th anniversary of National Asbestos Awareness Month and 12 years as Australia’s longest-running, multi-award winning annual asbestos education campaign warning homeowners, renovators and tradies of the dangers of asbestos and directing them to Australia’s most comprehensive source of asbestos information and resources at asbstosawareness.com.au where they can learn how to manage asbestos safely.

Since launching asbestosawareness.com.au in 2011 for Asbestos Awareness Week, the campaign has grown into National Asbestos Awareness Month winning multiple peer-reviewed awards both nationally (7) and internationally (2) and has been acknowledged in parliaments across Australia and global medical journals as a leading initiative in the prevention of asbestos-related diseases.  In December 2022, Advocacy Australia was recognized with two Golden Target Awards for the 2021 campaign.

The importance of continuing the National Asbestos Awareness Month campaign and the asbestosawareness.com.au website in the prevention of asbestos-related diseases cannot be overstated.  With funding for the campaign ceasing in 2018 and funding to keep the website live concluding in January 2019, to help save lives the campaign is being conducted in a pro-bono capacity. To continue the campaign and keep the website live beyond 2023, funding is desperately needed.

ASBESTOSAWARENESS.COM.AU

asbestosawareness.com.au is Australia’s leading, most comprehensive trusted source of asbestos information dedicated to educating the community about the dangers of asbestos with a specific focus on homeowners, renovators, tradies, commercial property managers and the owners and managers of regional properties where naturally occurring asbestos can be found.

Since launching on Monday 21 November 2011, the asbestosawareness.com.au website has had:

  • Over 2.5 million pageviews
  • Over 1.1 million sessions
  • Over 815,000 unique users
  • Asbestos information resources accessed from the website:
    • Over 1500 resources are available to the public to download. 107 are flyers, fact sheets, posters and templates with the remaining being images, graphics, presentations and videos.
    • These resources have been accessed over 600,000 times

asbestosawareness.com.au, provides comprehensive asbestos information and user-friendly practical resources:

 

  

ASBESTOS AWARENESS – MEDIA SPOKESPERSONS

Cherie Barber – CAMPAIGN AMBASSADOR

Cherie Barber is widely known as Australia’s Renovation Queen™. Cherie is a regular TV renovator, highly sought-after public speaker, author and award-winning businesswoman with her renovating for profit career spanning more than 30 years. Cherie lost her grandfather to asbestos-related disease and has been a dedicated Ambassador for the National Asbestos Awareness campaign to educate homeowners and DIYers on how to renovate homes with asbestos safely since 2013.

 

Bret Baker JP

Bret Baker is President of the Asbestos & Hazmat Removal Contractors Association of NSW (AHRCA). Bret is a Civil and Environmental Engineer and is the Managing Director of Beasy Pty Ltd with more than 25 years experienced in asbestos removal and demolition. Bret is a long-time industry representative on a number of government asbestos and demolition advisory committees including SafeWork NSW Demolition & Asbestos Consultative Committee and the Asbestos Safety & Eradication Agency of Australia – Management and Removal Committee Member. Bret has presented at state and national asbestos forums on asbestos-related industry issues. Bret is a member of the Asbestos Education Committee for the National Asbestos Awareness Campaign.

 

John Batty

John Batty is one of the founding members of the Asbestos & Hazardous-Materials Consultants Association (AHCA) and the Managing Director of EDP Consultants, a global provider of Health, Safety and Environmental Services. John has more than 18 years’ experience in asbestos and hazardous materials management and provides consultancy services to a number of government departments and private organisations. John is a member of the Asbestos Education Committee for the National Asbestos Awareness Campaign.

 

Clare Collins

Clare Collins is the Director of the National Asbestos Awareness Month campaign and asbestosawareness.com.au. Clare is the Managing Director of Insight Communications, the creators and managers of the Asbestos Awareness campaign since 2011. Working in consultation with government experts and industry leaders, Insight are the creatives behind the multi-award winning campaign and asbestosawareness.com.au. Insight has presented the campaign to stakeholders and industry leaders in the UK, Europe and Australia. Clare is the Chair of Advocacy Australia and the Asbestos Education Committee for the National Asbestos Awareness Campaign.

 

Councillor Greg Cummings

Clr Cummings has previously served as Mayor and Councillor on the former Holroyd City Council since 2004. He was elected as the first Mayor of Cumberland since inception in 2017. Clr Cummings has been instrumental in the initiation of the Workplace Tragedy Memorial, the asbestos awareness campaign, and Reconciliation Day. He strives to represent his constituents and is passionate about local issues. Clr Cummings is a member of the Asbestos Education Committee for the National Asbestos Awareness Campaign.

 

Mathew Klintfält, Asbestos Awareness Advocate and son of the Late Carol Klintfält AM

Mathew Klintfält is the son of the Late Carol Klintfält AM who was honoured with an Order of Australia in Queen’s Birthday Honours Roll 2015 for her tireless advocacy to Asbestos Awareness following her diagnosis with mesothelioma. Mathew is an advocate for the prevention of asbestos-related diseases providing personal insight into the impact asbestos had on his mother and his family. Mathew is a member of the Asbestos Education Committee for the National Asbestos Awareness Campaign.

 

Phillip Smith

Phillip Smith is the Group Executive for Environment, Health, Safety and Quality and Business Technology at SHAPE Australia Pty Limited. Phil has over 30 years’ experience in the building industry and holds trade, construction, strategic leadership and WHS qualifications. Phil is a member of the Asbestos & Hazmat Removal Contractors Association and the OFSC Industry Reference Group, and strongly advocates for asbestos awareness causes, industry associations and charitable organisations. SHAPE has a strong focus on asbestos management, education, and awareness, with industry leading asbestos management systems. Phil is a member of the Asbestos Education Committee for the National Asbestos Awareness Campaign.

 

Joanne Wade

Joanne Wade is the Head of National Asbestos and Dust Diseases for Slater and Gordon Lawyers and is a respected thought leader in advocating for the needs of people with asbestos related diseases since 1996.  Joanne brings a unique credibility and very personal experience to the role, as her father is a victim of asbestos disease, which has led her to a career she is passionate about. Ms Wade was a founding member of Australia’s first Asbestos Education Committee for the Asbestos Awareness Campaign aimed at educating homeowners and renovators on the dangers of asbestos.

 

Health and Medical Researchers:

Health and medical researchers are available on request.

 

SOURCES

 

  

 


Key Facts:
  • 1-in-3 Australian homes contain asbestos
  • 4000 Austrians die annually from an asbestos-related disease - 235% more than the 2022 annual national road toll.
  • 51% of mesothelioma patients reported exposure during home renovations
  • ANY home built or renovated prior to 1990 will contain asbestos in some form or another.
    • Homes include apartments, brick, weatherboard or clad
    • Even Victorian Terrance's contain asbestos as it was introduced 
  • 61.4% of DIY renovators reported being exposed to asbestos fibres during home renos
  • The annual Asbestos Awareness Campaign is Australia's only multi-award-winning asbestos education initiative and launched in 2011.

Contact details:

Insight Communications - 02 9518 4744

Alice Collins - 0414 686 091 - alice@insightcommunications.net.au

Clare Collina - 0414 821 957 - clare@insightcommunications.net.au

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