Asbestos clean-up concerns

THE Channon Public School is one of 14 NSW schools being investigated by WorkCover for breaches in the handling of asbestos during recent construction work.

Concerns have been raised about the lack of transparency and consultation with students and parents given that Occupational Health and Safety regulations require all employees to be informed of workplace hazards.

WorkCover has told The Northern Star that four notices were issued to the construction contractor on-site at The Channon Public School in relation to asbestos removal, though those involved administration and licensing issues only.

The authority could not confirm when those notices were issued, or what they specifically related to.

Several parents of students at the small Northern Rivers school said yesterday they were unaware of the breaches.

Due to holidays the school’s principal and P&C members could not be contacted yesterday, but a spokesman for the Department of Education and Training confirmed that parents had been notified about the removal of asbestos cladding from the school’s library in a letter from the principal sent in February this year.

In the letter, the principal informed parents that the work had been carried out during holidays before the start of term one to avoid any potential exposure for students, and all protocols had been strictly adhered to.

The spokesman said yesterday the department had a rigorous system for asbestos removal and monitoring, ensuring that ‘no student or staff member’s health was put at risk’.

“Under the department’s asbestos management plan, principals are responsible for ensuring that employees, contractors and consultants are suitably informed about the presence of asbestos,” he said.

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