Asbestos is a bit of a sleeping dragon. It lies in wait and when disturbed, becomes dangerous.
Each week 13 Australians die of asbestos related diseases, 12 from malignant mesothelioma. Another 13 are diagnosed with this hideous disease, according to asbestosawareness.com.au, a campaign to educate the community on the continuing risks of asbestos.
Insurance broker and Director of Webber Insurance Services Daniel Webber notes:
“It’s not a material that is being used in buildings these days – but it was used a lot in the past so there’s still plenty around that needs to be removed …”
The biggest risk now then is to demolition tradies and renovators disturbing asbestos and releasing the deadly fibres.
“Really, wherever there is asbestos there is an exposure. So, it could be an electrician or a plumber if they are drilling into a wall, and they don’t know there is asbestos, they’ll be exposed and a standard insurance policy is not going to cover that,” he notes.
That’s the hardest thing to educate tradies about, Webber says. However, if they know they are going to be exposed, then there is specific policy cover for it.
Nevertheless: “They need to think about prevention before they consider insurance.”
And that’s how brokers can help.
Webber generally advises his tradie clients to first check for an asbestos register if they are on commercial premises; and to have a risk management plan in place.
“If not, they need to be able to identify asbestos and ensure there isn’t exposure,” he says. “Then if they do discover it, what is their process from there, that is, do they report it to the business owner, or homeowner, what are they going to do about it?”
Resources like a 20-point safety check, and tradie specific checklists are available at asbestosawareness.com.au for brokers to share with clients.
NIBA Newsletter November 2018