AHCA Bushfire Remediation Roundup

Published April 29, 2020

The Asbestos and Hazardous Materials Consultants Association (AHCA) hosted a Breakfast Seminar on Wednesday, 26th February 2020. The guest speakers included:

Steve NikolovskiState Inspector (Asbestos & Demolition) – SafeWork NSW,
Jill GallagherAsbestos Coordination Manager – NSW EPA
Rhian ToughSenior Officer, Fire Operations and Recovery – NSW EPA.


Special Thanks

A big thanks to 3M for sponsoring the night, we appreciate their help alongside such an important goal for Australia. You can see the presentation they gave on the night, and learn more about the new Construction Respirator Kit they have available now.


About the Breakfast

In the devastating aftermath of Australia’s bushfires, lives and livelihoods were destroyed. As the clean-up commences, the potential for asbestos to be present within the bushfire effected properties is a big concern.

This poses a risk to home-owners, public and remediators engaged to clean-up the sites.

The NSW Government through Public Works Advisory (PWA) has taken on the mammoth task of recovery clean-up works of all registered fire damaged properties across NSW.

Additionally the NSW Government has engaged Laing O’Rourke as the Managing Contractor to oversee the first phase of recovery clean-up works who will be working with local subcontractors and reginal small business across NSW to deliver the clean-up process.

Laing O’Rourke’s with PWA shall undertake the following services:

  • Identify and register bushfire affected properties via Service NSW;
  • Conduct an assessment including the size/scale of the clean-up. This will also include Laing O’Rourke directly engaging consultancies to conduct asbestos identification works, asbestos investigation works and provide scope of works documentations;
  •  Laing O’Rourke will then contact owners of the properties to discuss insurances and items which may be salvageable or require to be disposed of;
  •  And finally the disposal work across NSW which will involve consultancies overseeing the asbestos removal works, conduct asbestos fibre air monitoring and complete asbestos visual clearances relating to the clean-up of properties.

The expected scheduled works for all remediation is to be completed is 30th June 2020.

Should AHCA members be interested in being part of the bushfire clean-up project Laing O’Rourke has requested that register their interest via the ICN Gateway portal.

Each speaker emphasised the need for all involved to be empathetic and calm towards communities as they are in a state of trauma.

To assist affected communities, different forms of communication is underway to community members about the hazards and risks associated with their fire damaged properties. For example, NSW Government initiated community engagement meetings have been held, each with significant attendance. Supporting documentation including over 180 different fact sheets for homeowners, to minimise confusion and help them develop an understanding of what is required and the hazards involved.

Steve Nikolovski (WorkSafe NSW) discussed the importance of distinguishing friable and non-friable fire affected properties as well as best practice in the removal of hazardous materials such as asbestos. Steve presented a checklist for consultancies conducting the remediation works which includes a Licenced Asbestos Assessor (LAA) checklist as well as a Friable and Non-Friable Asbestos Checklist.

Steve discussed that SafeWork NSW has waived the five (5) day notification period to undertake bushfire related friable asbestos works. The Licenced Asbestos Removal Contractor (LARC) simply needs to input in the notification application “Bushfire affected property”. He also advised that SafeWork NSW was to designate a site supervisor to specific areas “packages” that would oversee asbestos remediation works.

Jill Gallagher (NSW EPA) informed everyone that the NSW Government has established recovery centres across NSW with EPA representatives, building impact assessment teams and SafeWork NSW representatives available to answer communities’ questions and concerns.

Rhian Tough (NSW EPA) discussed that impact assessments would be conducted by the Rural Fire Service (RFS) which would populate how many bushfire affected properties to date.

A building impact assessment team compromising of LAA’s, RFS, Fire Services, EPA and SafeWork NSW would assess the properties and then next steps would be remediation.

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