To mark National Asbestos Awareness Week the NSW Government is reminding the community that workplaces, homes and other public or commercial buildings constructed before 1990 have a good chance of containing harmful asbestos.

Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said the theme of this year’s National Asbestos Week is “think twice about asbestos, it’s in one-in-three homes” and this is a timely reminder for people to be careful when dealing with the dangerous substance.

“Many older houses have been built using materials containing asbestos and when it is in good condition it poses little health risk. But when cut or drilled, small asbestos fibres are created which can be inhaled, potentially leading to harmful asbestos related diseases,” Mr Anderson said.

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“Tragically in NSW we are very aware of how dangerous this product can be. In 2020/21 there were 333 people diagnosed with a dust disease due to exposure in a workplace. This is down from 472 the previous year but it is still not a good number.

“The NSW Government carries out regular compliance activities to ensure that people are working with asbestos in a safe way and we are offering education across industries to inform people about the risks associated with asbestos removal.

“People working with asbestos should conduct asbestos awareness training and wear appropriate PPE at all times.”

The NSW Government has received 27,321 notifications about the removal of asbestos last year but not all people are getting their processes right. Inspectors issued more than 500 improvement notices, 162 prohibition notices and 53 penalty notices to the asbestos removal and demolition industries.

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People working on homes built before 1990 can stay safe if they know where asbestos is and they do not disturb or damage it. They should seek professional help to locate, manage or remove it.