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Getex assist insurance industry to manage hailstorm asbestos hazards

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article image A shed containing asbestos material

On December 2007, a severe hailstorm with heavy rain, strong winds and giant hail hit Western and North Western areas of Sydney. The worst affected areas were Blacktown, Baulkham Hills, Hornsby, Mt Druitt, North Sydney and Penrith.

With hail stones tearing through commercial and residential roofs and awnings, the local government areas of Blacktown, Baulkham Hills, Hornsby and Penrith were declared natural disaster areas.

Figures quoted by the Insurance Council indicated that over 8000 residences suffered storm damage to home and garage roofs, and many of those roofs contained asbestos.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre that was widely used in the form of “fibro” as a housing material until the early 1980s. Large hailstones have the potential to puncture roofs and walls consisting of “asbestos cement (AC) material”. This is understood to have occurred in over 1500 (of the 8000 thought to be affected) properties built with asbestos roofing and/or sheeting in Western Sydney. As a result, broken asbestos sheeting and asbestos roofing was present in these homes.

In products such as fibro, the asbestos fibres are firmly bound in a cement matrix and fractured asbestos sheets generally pose a minimal risk to health.

It was considered important that this risk be assessed by asbestos consultants/ occupational hygienists experienced in asbestos type issues. Consultancy firms such as Getex were contacted to provide initial assessments of houses and associated buildings thought to contain asbestos containing material (ACM) damaged by the hailstorm.

Throughout the assessment period, Getex were called upon to assess over 400 damaged homes, garages and sheds thought to contain asbestos within building materials. Each property assessment, undertaken by Getex, was completed quickly, efficiently and unobtrusively without any inconvenience or interference to the home owner. Getex provided each report in an easy to read format to the contractor and/or insurance assessor after the inspection.

To ensure that all the necessary precautions were carried out in accordance with the asbestos inspection and asbestos risk assessment completed by Getex prior to works commencing, NATA accredited asbestos air monitoring was supplied by Getex during all works completed by the asbestos removal contractor.

Upon a successful completion of the asbestos removal works, an asbestos clearance inspection was completed by Getex and if the asbestos removal was satisfactory, an asbestos clearance inspection report was issued by GETEX.

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