- New fines of up to $10,000 for individuals, $50,000 for corporations
- On-the-spot infringements introduced
- Increasing number of mesothelioma cases blamed on home exposure
People in Western Australia caught failing to take appropriate safeguards when handling or disposing of asbestos will face tough new penalties.
Health Minister John Day has issued the warning as amendments to the Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992 come into effect, including on-the-spot infringement notices for specified asbestos-related offences.
"If not handled properly, asbestos products present a significant public health risk and can have potentially deadly consequences," Mr Day said.
"Unfortunately, previous penalties for asbestos-related offences were failing to deter people from such risky practices."
Under the amended regulations, a person convicted of an offence will now face a penalty of up to $10,000. Corporations can face up to five times this amount under section 40(5) of the Sentencing Act 1995.
"This represents a 10-fold increase in the current penalties but I am sure people will agree these changes are justified, given the dangerous nature of asbestos products under certain conditions," the Minister said.
"We have also introduced on-the-spot infringements, meaning anyone mishandling asbestos -from a homeowner doing a minor renovation to an experienced builder on a construction site - can be issued by local government-authorised officers with a penalty of up to $2,000 for a specified offence."
In recent years, about 100 new cases of mesothelioma have been diagnosed in WA annually, with an increasing proportion developing as a result of building activities around the home.
- Advice on asbestos risk and how to manage it is available from local councils
- Advice is also available from the Environmental Health Directorate, Department of Health WA, on 9388 4999 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- In the 1980s about 1-2% of mesothelioma cases were from residential exposures but this has increased to 13-14% in the past 10 years
- Between 1960 and 2015 there have been more than 2,230 cases of mesothelioma in WA
- The number of new cases per year is not expected to decrease until after 2020
Minister's office - 6552 6200