The USU was informally and formally advised by Blacktown City Council on Monday 3rd December that Council had discovered asbestos under the carpet on Level 1 of the Civic Centre during renovations.
Council advised that they intended to advise staff at 2pm on Wednesday 5th December. The USU wrote to council advising that the union does not agree with withholding this information from staff and would advise our members asap.
Following discussions with Council a copy of the report into the asbestos was provided to the USU. This report showed that there was undisturbed asbestos present at two locations:
- Vinyl floor tiles containing asbestos under carpet 100m2 in area on Level 1 in the older area of the building
- Ceiling space above entry area and stair landing on ground floor 10 m2 in area
Council have advised the Union that no material has been disturbed at this time and prior to any work being carried out a plan will be developed which will assure staff safety. The USU has concerns that typically, asbestos backed vinyl flooring is made up of 100% asbestos. To ensure safety, this type of asbestos removal work must be done using a full enclosure with negative air extraction units. The USU will be vigilant in ensuring that no worker is put at risk.
The Union has serious concerns however that Council knew of this situation as early as the 3rd November 2018 and received the report above on the 5th November 2018. Whilst the situation may currently be deemed as safe there is no reason why staff were not informed of this matter as soon as council was aware. It is best practice that as soon as asbestos is suspected it is treated as if the area was in fact contaminated. Council have not acted appropriately in this matter.
The USU has been invited to the meeting on the 5th December and should members wish a Union meeting can be held directly after the presentation by Council to discuss this matter further.
Please feel free to contact your organiser Sandie Morthen on 0419 761 326 or Smorthen@usu.org.au if you would like to discuss this matter further.