SUITED-UP: Asbestos being removed from a property on Main Road at Maroochydore.
SUITED-UP: Asbestos being removed from a property on Main Road at Maroochydore. Che Chapman

Asbestos scare as couple see "aliens" on neighbour's roof

"THERE are aliens on the roof next door."

It was the first thing David Kelly said to his partner Joanne Murray yesterday morning.

But the joke quickly turned serious for the Maroochydore resident when she realised those "aliens" were removing asbestos.

"We saw the scaffolding go up last week and thought the neighbours must be getting their roof repainted," Ms Murray said.

"When we woke up early this morning, there were guys in white suits with the great big breathing apparatus.

"We had no warning of this happening and I was worried because asbestos is so dangerous."

Ms Murray said she had approached a worker, who happened to be Queensland Asbestos Management Service health and safety manager Darren Rowsell, and she was told they were removing bonded sheets and she would be safe.

"If it wasn't dangerous, why were they completely covered up?" she said.

Mr Rowsell said the business had been engaged to remove the roof sheeting off the unit in Main St.

"We followed all the acts, regulations and standards, workplace health and safety were fully notified of what we were doing and all the boys were certified," he said.

"That's why the guys were in their protective gear - it's required by law."

The team of nine workers started work at 7am and were finished about noon.

Mr Rowsell said residents in the complex where they were working had been notified by their body corporate.

He said normal procedure also involved a letterbox drop of surrounding residences two or three days before work began.

"I have been informed that it (letterbox drop) has happened," he said.

"When I was talking to (Ms Murray), the wind had just picked up, but we were working with bonded sheeting so the only thing that could possibly get airborne would be insulation and that's not asbestos."

ABOUT ASBESTOS

Asbestos-containing materials fall into two broad categories

Friable: materials that can be easily reduced to powder when crushed by hand when dry.

These materials can contain high percentages of asbestos fibres and are more likely to release these fibres into the environment when disturbed.

As such, they pose a greater risk to health.

Non-friable (or bonded asbestos): materials in which the asbestos is firmly bound in the matrix of the material.

These materials are unlikely to release measurable levels of asbestos fibre into the environment if they are left undisturbed and contain around 15% asbestos.

Therefore, they generally pose a lower risk to health.

Source: http://www.deir.qld.gov.au


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