SafeWork NSW has issued a warning to tradies and homeowners after high pressure water blasters were used to clean asbestos roofs.

The most serious incident occurred on Sydney’s northern beaches where two properties had to be vacated after a water blaster was used to clean a roof containing asbestos debris spread to neighbouring properties.

Other recent examples include a commercial property on the northern beaches where a garden hose was used to clean an asbestos roof, which led to loss of business for the tenants and a commercial complex on the Central Coast which is currently being investigated by SafeWork NSW.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said it was against the law to use high pressure water spray and compressed air to clean asbestos roofs and heavy penalties applied.

“In NSW, there are legal requirements regarding asbestos management, its removal and disposal,” Mr Dunphy said.

“If left undisturbed, asbestos materials in good, stable condition are unlikely to release dangerous fibres and pose a health risk.

“However, if asbestos is disturbed during renovations or maintenance, your health and the health of your family and neighbours could be at risk from inhaling airborne fibres.

“If you must work with material that may contain asbestos or remove asbestos, protect yourself and your family by following the legal and safety requirements for the management of asbestos.

“Never use high pressure water blasters or compressed air to clean asbestos roofs and never walk or work on them as they can be brittle and you can easily fall through and injure yourself.

“Significant penalties apply, with fines ranging from $3,600 for individuals and $18,000 for body corporates.

“It is completely unacceptable to risk people’s health and SafeWork NSW will take strong action against those who are caught.”

SafeWork NSW recommends property owners only use qualified asbestos removalists licensed by SafeWork to ensure asbestos is safely and properly removed.

A list of licensed asbestos removalists can be found at www.safework.nsw.gov.au Anyone with questions about safe asbestos management can 1800 Asbestos (1800 272 378) or visit www.asbestosawareness.com.au

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