Asbestos Exposure - Dodgy Builder to Blame?

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22 June 2014
Hi, I work for an interior company doing plastering etc, and get sent by my boss to different job/construction sites for different tenants or builders around the city. One particular job last week, myself and a workmate were sent to an old renovation job to put up some studs over an old wall and the ceiling, and to eventually hang up plasterboard.

The job site builder seemed to be slightly dodgy, always seemed to be in a problem with someone over the phone etc so I didn't really trust him. There was an exposed timber stud wall on one side which we had to level off with new metal studs. While working for the majority of the first day doing this, we were interrupted by the builder because he wanted to take out the window frame that was on that wall we were putting the stud up on.

He got a reciprocal saw and sawed straight into and around the wall to remove the window frame, whilst myself and my workmate standing a few feet away from him. His action whilst doing it was very reckless and inconsiderate to any safety around him.

So we continued working for the rest of the day and started again that following morning, which is when the problem arose. Another more experienced employee for our company was in with us on site that morning. (The builder not on site at this time). He noticed the sheets on the external side of the stud wall of which we were working on could be asbestos, so he told us to exit the site until we could determine it. These sheets, similar to concrete sheets (which I presumed they were) were spanned across most of the wall, with various broken parts. Also up to and around the window of which he recklessly pulled out.

We rang our boss and he said to get out of the site immediately until further notice.
We took various photos of the area, and a small sample was taken. Which later was determined to be asbestos.

Thinking back on the previous day, the builder had cut right into and around the window frame where there is also asbestos sheet. I am worried that I could be exposed it. Im aware that asbestos can be most harmful when broken, damaged or moved.
The builder should have had the site inspected for asbestos during demolition process (as the year of the dwelling would be suspected of containing asbestos) and also to be removed by a professional prior to any work being commenced on site.

Can I take action against this 'idiotic' builder, that I suspect may have forged an asbestos inspection report.

And also, would my boss have anything held against him? He was obviously unaware that there was asbestos in the site.

I'm not too sure on the legality of this situation, but would gladly appreciate your help.

Thanks very much.

Paul Cott

Well-Known Member
LawConnect (LawTap) Verified
26 May 2014
Ballarat, Victoria

I would call Worksafe (or the equivalent body in your state) and ask them what to do.

Also your boss probably has some responsibility in this.

Perhaps it may be an idea to see a personal injury lawyer to get advice on what your rights are.

I am no expert but it is my belief that an exposure to asbestos on even one occasion may not be enough to create illness - but as i say, I am no expert on that. Perhaps get yourself checked out my a GP.

Hope this is useful.

Paul Cott.
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