NSW residents and local tradespeople are being urged to seek out information on the potential risks of being exposed to asbestos and how to safely manage asbestos products on Asbestos Awareness Day, 28 November 2014.

"The widespread use of asbestos in several industries has left Australia and other countries around the world with a deadly legacy," Acting General Manager of WorkCover's Work Health and Safety Division, Peter Dunphy, said.

"Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related diseases in the world because this country was among the highest consumers of asbestos products until a complete ban of asbestos came into force in Australia in 2003.

"There is still a high volume of asbestos-containing building products used prior to 1987 that remain hidden dangers in homes and buildings such as garages and farm structures so it's critical that all Australians become asbestos aware."

Mr Dunphy said tradespeople who came into direct contact with products that may contain asbestos were particularly vulnerable and needed to be aware of the risks and safe management practices of working with asbestos.

"Many Australians wrongly believe that only fibro homes contain asbestos. With asbestos products still commonly found in and around brick, weatherboard, clad and fibro homes built or renovated before 1987, it's vital that homeowners, renovators, and tradespeople educate themselves," he said.

"Visit www.asbestosawareness.com.au and take the 20 Point Safety Check to learn where asbestos might be found in homes and on properties and how to manage it safely because it's not worth the risk to themselves or to their families."

In NSW one of the most dangerous forms of asbestos, loose-fill, is presently the subject of an independent investigation to help determine the number of premises impacted by loose-filled asbestos ceiling insulation material.

Concerned residents in homes built before 1980 can contact WorkCover on 13 10 50 to see if they are eligible to have their property tested and assessed for the material.

A licensed asbestos assessor can advise on whether living spaces are well sealed and asbestos hazards are appropriately controlled. A list of licensed asbestos assessors is online at www.workcover.nsw.gov.au    

Free ceiling insulation tests are being provided for homeowners across 26 local government areas to identify all loose fill asbestos in residential premises.

Free independent technical assessments are being offered to affected homeowners, advising on and confirming the adequacy of risk controls in each of the identified homes for a 12 month period.

For more information, visit www.asbestosawareness.com.au

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