Weekend warriors face renovation asbestos risk

02-Nov-2017 12:40 PM

Lawyers at Maurice Blackburn are helping to raise community awareness of the risks of asbestos exposure to Victorian home renovators as part of Asbestos Awareness Month, which runs throughout November.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers Principal Jane McDermott, who specialises in dust diseases law, said asbestos awareness was particularly important for anyone working on a house built before the mid-1980s.

“Despite being banned in Australia for more than a decade, asbestos was present in excess of 3000 products worldwide at the height of its use, with asbestos-containing products used in the construction of 98 per cent of Victorian homes built before 1976*,” she said.

“Common asbestos-containing products are carports, sheds, roof sheeting and capping, flexible building boards, expansion joints, concrete formwork and wall sheeting.”

Ms McDermott said it was a common misconception that Australian building inspection reports would identify if there were asbestos products present when homes were purchased.

“It’s not mandatory for a building inspection report to identify asbestos in the home and the seller is not obliged to inform buyers of its presence at the time of purchase,” she said.

“In general, if your house was built before the mid-1980s, it’s highly likely that it contains some asbestos products.”   

Ms McDermott said inhaling asbestos fibres was associated with a number of diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

“Unfortunately, we are still seeing too many Australians affected by asbestos-related diseases as the third wave of victims are diagnosed. This includes home renovators and other builders who have had relatively low exposure to asbestos over a fairly short period of time." 

She strongly encourages anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to asbestos to record the potential exposure.

“While awareness of asbestos and the quality of information is improving, recording exposure at the time is important, as these diseases typically have a long latency period of many years,” Ms McDermott said.

“If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos either during the course of your employment, during a home renovation or in the community, you should immediately register your details online.”

Maurice Blackburn’s national asbestos register is available at www.mauriceblackburn.com.au/asbestos-diseases/national-asbestos-register/

*Source: http://www.asbestoswise.com.au/information-and-resources/asbestos-in-the-home/

Media inquiries: Chee Chee Leung, 0412 560 584, cleung@mauriceblackburn.com.au