Asbestos course for council workers wins training award

A collaboration between business and LGNSW that produced an asbestos training program for council employees has recieved a state government award.

(L to R): Paul McDonough, RTO Manager, Coates; Daniel Adler of LGNSW; and Michelle McCallum of State Training Services (image supplied).

Equipment hire company Coates, a registered training organisation, worked with the peak NSW local government organisation to design the one-day course, which upskills NSW local government officers in asbestos identification and response.

The project took out an award for industry collaboration at the NSW Department of Education’s 2023 Training awards on September 15.

The course has been approved by SafeWork NSW and the NSW Asbestos Coordination Working Group as suitable for council workers who may be required to identify the different types of asbestos, understand the risks associated with each, and ensure asbestos is handled in accordance with WHS policies and procedures.

It covers a range of topics including legislative and regulatory requirements, site risk assessmen , identifying and understanding different types of asbestos, PPE requirements and notification requirements.

Workers who complete the course receive a statement of attainment for waste assessment, risk control and safe work practices.

Coates RTO manager Paul McDonough said the ability to identify asbestos-contaminated waste has become a necessary skill for many in to the local government sector.

Asbestos, which causes a range of deadly lung diseases, was widely used for insulation and fire prevention in Australian homes until the mid 1980s when its dangers became known.

It was banned in 2003 but, according to the federal asbestos safety and eradication agency is estimated to still be present in one in three homes.

Mr McDonough said recent natural disasters including floods and fires have resulted in large volumes of asbestos-containing roadside rubbish, with asbestos also washing up on the banks of flooded waterways and being dumped in bush and parkland.

“The one-day course better equips local government officers across the state with the basics so that they can quickly determine the safest course of action when they’re called out to an inspection or identify asbestos in waste materials and landfill,” he said.

The training team covered more than 12,000 kilometres during the rollout of the course, including regional and fire and flood-affected areas, and training sessions held in locations including Albury, Warrumbungle, Gilgandra, Armidale, Lismore and the Hunter.

Campbelltown City Council WHS Specialist Roland Man said workers received extensive training in asbestos-related work and safe handling.

“We found the trainers to be thoroughly experienced and knowledgeable and would recommend this training for any organisation that may come across asbestos in their work,” he said.

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