NEWS

Asbestos Removal Continues To Be Monitored

The Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations will continue to monitor areas where asbestos has been found. Minister for Employment Jone Usamate confirmed this, saying that so far asbestos
28 Nov 2017 12:34
Asbestos Removal Continues To Be Monitored
Usamate

The Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations will continue to monitor areas where asbestos has been found.

Minister for Employment Jone Usamate confirmed this, saying that so far asbestos removal was being conducted and monitored at the Nausori Municipal Market and at the President’s State House.

Asbestos is understood to be a naturally occurring rock fibre that is harmful to humans and has been banned from most modern products, but remains a serious legacy from its past widespread use in building materials, insulation, brake linings and roofing products.

According to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) when products containing asbestos are damaged or wear down over time, small asbestos fibres are released and become airborne where they can be readily inhaled.

SPREP stated that although these fibres are not immediately toxic, they can remain lodged in the lungs and can eventually cause serious lung disease including asbestosis, lung and other cancers many years after inhalation.

Earlier this year, asbestos was first spotted at the Civic Centre building in Suva.

Mr Usamate said the ministry gives the parameters within which the asbestos can be removed.

“As we did for the Suva City Council, our officers told them what they need to do and for them to hire contractors and that they need to remove the asbestos and they need to meet certain requirements.

“We will provide an oversight to make sure that it’s done safely.”

Mr Usamate said work had already commenced at the Nausori Municipal Market under the supervision of the National Occupational Health and Safety Service (NOHSS) of the Ministry of Employment.

He said the Nausori Town Council had to hire their own consultants in order to have the asbestos removed. The same has been advised for the State House, the President’s residence.

“The focus is to remove it, but we supervise the work to make sure that there is no harmful health effect on the people that stay there and work there.”

It is understood the building materials found containing asbestos in the old Nausori Market are still intact and did not pose any threat to the general public.

A Government statement issued earlier stated the removal of all asbestos-containing material at the President’s State House would also be closely monitored and adequately supervised by the National Occupational Health and Safety Service (NOHSS) of the Ministry of Employment.

It was stated that this would not pose any threat to the workers at the State House or the general public.

It stated that the NOHSS would work closely with the State House renovation contractors to properly dispose of the materials found to contain asbestos, in line with the code of practice for the safe removal of Asbestos and international best practices.

Air tests will also be conducted regularly throughout the removal process by NOHSS ensuring no airborne threats to the workplace and the surrounding environment.

Edited by Mohammed Zulfikar

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