The Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia (ADFA) have slammed a Channel 9 promotion for the new series of The Block, saying its dangerous disregard for safety could lead to home renovators suffering from deadly asbestos diseases due to dust exposure.
The video, which promotes the 2015 series currently in production in Melbourne, features contestants using jackhammers, angle grinders, saws, sledge hammers and drills to tear through three units, covering themselves and the occupants in dust in the process.
ADFA president Barry Robson said not one person in the advertisement was wearing any form of breathing protection, with those contestants breaking through areas of older homes likely to be “riddled with asbestos”.
““Any house or unit built before 1987 has a good chance of containing asbestos, whether it was built from brick, weatherboard, or fibro,” Robson said.
“People falsely think asbestos is only found in fibro sheets, but it can be found under floor coverings, behind tiles, in cement floors, around hot water pipers, in walls, ceilings, insulation products and fire protection.”
Robson adds that he was “horrified by the commercial” and fears it could lead to home renovators exposing themselves to similar risks due to unsafe work practices.
“I was left absolutely speechless, with contestants shown falling through a ceiling, bringing clouds of dust and debris onto unsuspecting home owners, as power tools are shown tearing through the units,” he said.
“This is what happens when TV producers and advertisers, with no understanding of the very real dangers of asbestos, put the promotion of their product above the safety of their viewers.
“These ads need to be taken off the air immediately, The Block needs to ensure their units are asbestos free and viewers must be warned of the very real dangers posed to home renovators.”
However Nine Network has responded by saying that a thorough hazardous materials audit is conducted on any property to be renovated for the show prior to any work commencing. This ensures there is no asbestos on-site, and any asbestos found during the audit is safely removed.
“We have included scenes previously in the show which explain that this audit is done for every season of The Block and we have also broadcast warnings to home renovators to conduct their own asbestos checks prior to commencing works on their homes,” a spokesperson for Nine told A&D.
“We have asbestos warnings on the show’s website and explain to the audience the stringent methods we employ to ensure that asbestos is removed prior to works commencing.”
Nine adds that The Block host Scott Cam is an ambassador for Asbestos Awareness Week, and the program has in recent years worked closely with community groups Asbestos Wise and Asbestos Awareness to highlight the issue.
Every year about 1,000 Australians die from asbestos diseases, with people exposed during home renovations the fastest growing group. To find out more about asbestos please visit https://asbestossafety.gov.au/asbestos-information.