Wednesday, April 2, 2008

WorkSafe visits a very windy Roberts Street

Having reported the asbestos works at Roberts Street in today's windy conditions to WorkSafe around 9.30am this morning, as 4.00pm approached I decided to follow up, given there had been no phone response on the mobile number I left with them.

Instead of again calling the advisory line, I decided to call Steve Peters, a senior WorkSafe officer from the Preston office who had attended last Friday's public meeting and provided useful information.

Steve said a WorkSafe inspector had attended the site later this morning following my visit to the site between 8.45 and 9.15am. He advised that, while WorkSafe was bound by privacy provisions, and the inspection was between WorkSafe and the company, the inspector had found works proceeding in accordance with regulations. He added that works stopped at lunch and agreed this was likely because of the wind. Steve further advised that asbestos removal proceeding inside would not be a problem on a windy day.

Soon I will post YouTube footage taken on-site over three days, including the start of works today (the likely start advised by workers yesterday did not pan out, for whatever reason). The footage raises questions worthy of further investigation in that hammering noises on the footage appear loud enough to be external to the flats, window frames (and quite possibly doors) are missing on some units, and workmen in full protective gear were filmed with a ladder on one of the upper-level walkways visible from the High Street frontage.

While the time of WorkSafe's visit has not been confirmed, it seems to me that between my visit and theirs, there was plenty of scope for works to proceed that were quite arguably inappropriate given the conditions. The point I made to Steve in our discussion this afternoon was that, on its face, the circumstance of asbestos removal proceeding on a day of very high winds was at the very least concerning.

I hope the Office of Housing, in particular, appreciates this perspective – especially given the demonstrable lack of disclosure about asbestos on the site and the closeness of the start of the works to its only public meeting on the issue last Friday.

The 6.10pm response from Housing's Ed David to the 10.56am email to Steve on which Ed was copied was simply: 'Noted. WorkSafe have been in discussion with us. It is under control.' In fairness, I had earlier alerted Ed by phone and he had said an inspector would be sent out there. However, one is justified in asking what is under control? – hopefully it's the asbestos management on site. Of course, so-called 'privacy' means we are unlikely to find out what actually took place on-site, let alone in Housing's 'discussion' with WorkSafe.

Needless to say, there has as yet been no response from Richardson and Wynne on this issue, despite contact with their offices this morning by phone and email – unsurprising, really.

Finally, this post was significantly delayed by my phone service being interrupted this afternoon. What can I say? It was just too windy.

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