Shameful disregard of safety in asbestos work safety fine
A house painter’s failure to protect his workers and the public from asbestos has been called shameful by a Brisbane magistrate.
The defendant was recently fined $ 3,000 after pleading guilty to three counts in Brisbane Magistrates’ Court. The charges concerned breaches of Queensland’s occupational safety laws by failing to ensure the health and safety of others and by ordering or allowing a worker to use a high pressure water jet on asbestos or materials containing asbestos.
He was also penalized for not complying with an improvement notice, with the cost of $ 48,291.09 to clean up and secure the property and its neighbors being left to the Queensland government.
The court heard that the defendant had violated the 2011 Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations by painting a house in Norman Park, which he knew contained asbestos. He also did not have a current QBCC commercial contractor license after failing to renew it.
Work began on February 21, 2019 when witnesses saw a worker cleaning the roof with water and a “ mud-speckled ” substance adhering to a neighbor’s exterior wall. In response to the complaints, Queensland occupational health and safety inspectors found the roof to be corrugated asbestos cement.
Testing revealed asbestos contamination caused by high pressure water blasting from the roof. The defendant received an improvement notice to make the property safe and ensure all asbestos was contained, tagged and disposed of, which did not happen.
In sentencing, Magistrate Michael Quinn observed the seriousness of the offense, especially as the safety of the community was in jeopardy. Magistrate Quinn was of the opinion that the accused’s conduct came very close to a willful disregard of his duties and responsibilities.
Low Density Asbestos Fiberboard (LDB) will be classified as friable material containing asbestos from May 1st. LDB is a lightly compressed board that looks like a sheet of cement or plasterboard, but easily crumbles (crumbly) and can release asbestos fibers into the air. Class A approved asbestos removal must be engaged to remove LDB from a property.
Read more information on asbestos.
The magistrate also noted that the behavior of the accused in receiving $ 6,000 for the work, failing to reimburse part of it and subsequently claiming that he was impecunious, was an aggravating factor as it demonstrated an almost insensitive disregard for public safety. It takes into account the difficulties that the Respondent suffered as a migrant and speaking English.
When considering the penalty to be imposed, the magistrate took into account the difficult financial situation of the defendant and the fact that he was paying a fine of $ 6,500 due to his illegal conduct by performing work without the proper license. He said the defendant’s conduct was “ disgraceful ” and imposed a fine of $ 3,000 and costs of $ 1,000.
No convictions were recorded.
Further prosecutions are at owhsp.qld.gov.au