Asbestos scandal: Davcom defends safety policies

A duct pit containing asbestos.UPDATE: Davcom found guilty, fined $20,000.

Ballarat business Davcom, which is clearing Telstra duct pits as part of the National Broadband Network roll-out, says the safety procedures it has in place for contractors are adequate.

The Courier yesterday revealed that workers from Davcom were concerned about their exposure to asbestos.

One of the workers said a crowbar was used to break apart asbestos before the broken pieces were placed into approved bags. Other workers said protective clothing was used only sparingly because of the cost.

Davcom operations manager Scott Davison said safety procedures were a high priority.

“In our industry it is imperative for organisations to adhere to industry-specific requirements which we adapted. It was procedure that all Davcom contractors underwent safety inductions either via online or onsite,” Mr Davison said.

“Equipped with the information and processes required to safely operate onsite, contractors were then provided with adequate personal protective equipment.

“Davcom took the initiative early in the process to qualify three senior management personnel in safe removal of asbestos, to ensure that no removal of affected pits would be undertaken by unqualified contractors.”

Ballarat MP Catherine King described Telstra sub-contractors using crowbars to remove asbestos from pits and ducts as “concerning”.

“It is concerning to read the report about a contractor not complying with the proper removal of asbestos by breaking it up with a crowbar,” Ms King said. “That is not the safe removal of asbestos.”

Ms King is preparing to hold a briefing this Saturday in Ballarat between local stakeholders to find out what is happening to handle the growing issue.

She said the problem of improper asbestos disposal seemed to have arisen from the web of different contractors involved in the huge project.

Telstra has taken responsibility for the work practices of its contractors and is currently auditing asbestos management.

Ms King said it was important local residents didn’t handle anything they thought was asbestos and instead called in the proper authorities to deal with it.

The men who raised the concerns were employed by Davcom, a company sub-contracted by Visionstream, a company contracted by Telstra to carry out remediation works on Telstra-owned pits.

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