A survey conducted at the Curtin University found that it’s difficult for three out of four trade persons to identify asbestos on the job while apprentices are not receiving any training.
The survey involved 240 carpenters, plumbers, painters, and electricians. Researchers found that only a small percentage of the respondents received asbestos-related training when plumbers and electricians were most at risk from exposure.
After raising the red flag in a workshop last month, the Master Builders Association and Housing Industry Association supported a bid to make asbestos testing and identification part of the training for identification part of the training for apprentice tradespeople in Perth.
Focus is on Younger Trade Person
According to Kim Richardson, construction director of MBA (WA), there is a reason apprentices are entering the workforce with little knowledge of the risks related to asbestos, even when they are at higher risk. Previous generations of trade persons knew the dangers of asbestos and imparted the knowledge to their colleagues. Now that older trade persons are retiring; awareness is also starting to decline.
Asbestos was used in abundance in buildings before the 1990s. At present, the substance is banned in Australia, which created false comfort among people and those in the industry. Many think that because of the ban, buildings now lack asbestos, but that could be far from the truth.
An advocate of asbestos awareness, Jo Morris, says in Western Australia (WA), the typical age of first exposure to asbestos is 23, hence the need to focus on the younger demographic.
Moves for the Updating of “White Card”
Dale Alcock, a builder, says WA all construction workers in either a residential or commercial building must have an approved “white card” as proof that they have completed a General Construction Induction course. Dale Alcock says there should be a review of asbestos elements within the training, including a contemporary module that tackles the assessment and identification, as well as proper handling of the substance.
Other stakeholders looking to promote awareness on the matter are pushing for the update of “white card” training.