Asbestos Exposure Could Have Been Prevented

Water Corporation staff and contractors were exposed to asbestos at a regional water reservoir because the Barnett Government took its eye off the ball, warns the Community and Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association.

The union is responding to an internal Water Corporation report released today that investigates how staff working at the Minnivale reservoir (between Dowerin and Wyalkatchem) in September-October last year) were exposed to asbestos.

It has been revealed that the Corporation had a record of asbestos presence at the reservoir but that this information did not make it to staff and contractors working at the site.

“The report paints a picture of a fragmented workforce and management systems which lack integration,” CPSU/CSA branch assistant secretary Rikki Hendon said.

“As a result people onsite were unnecessarily exposed to asbestos fibres, which is not acceptable and was totally avoidable.

“The report said there were several instances throughout the project that material containing asbestos should have been identified so that everyone involved could have taken appropriate safety precautions.”

The reservoir was added to the Asbestos Asset Register in October 2014 but the project team did not become aware of this until October 2015 when maintenance work had already been undertaken.

Ms Hendon put the blame squarely on the Barnett Government saying this incident occurred because the Water Corporation was too busy cutting back its workforce at the request of the government while the project was taking place.

“This is about the most serious process failure you can have where people’s safety and well-being is compromised.

“Instead of imposing a change process on the Water Corporation that stripped it of staff and funds, the government should have focused on improving systems to ensure better service to the community and safety for Water Corporation staff and contractors.

“Our focus now will be to ensure measures are put in place to avoid incidents like this occurring again in the future.”

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