A new research on asbestos awareness reveals that most Australians
understand the dangers of asbestos exposure but do not have the ability to identify
asbestos products or manage risks.
Commissioned by the Australian Government’s Asbestos Safety and
Eradication Agency, the large-scale research project conducted by Colmar
Brunton examined the knowledge of Australians at risk of potential exposure to asbestos
fibres and found that few had the practical skills to identify asbestos
products and handle them safely. Colmar Brunton surveyed 2362 tradespeople, DIY
renovators, real estate agents, landlords and members of the public to uncover
their awareness, attitudes and behaviours towards asbestos.
The quantitative research report was released recently at the two-day International
Conference on Asbestos Awareness and Management held at the Crown Conference
Centre in Melbourne.
According to the research report, there was moderate community
understanding of the prevalence of asbestos in the built environment, but very few
people were confident about their ability to identify asbestos containing
materials or situations that could put them at risk of exposure.
While tradespeople generally performed better, many DIY home renovators were
found to have carried out work in a potentially dangerous manner, with about
half of recent renovations not involving an assessment of asbestos materials
that may be present, despite one in five projects subsequently requiring
asbestos to be removed.
Worryingly, 36 per cent of DIY renovators reported undertaking the
removal of asbestos themselves, rather than using a professional.
While all groups agreed that it was important to be informed about
asbestos and its potential dangers, just 61 per cent of DIY renovators and 53
per cent of the general public felt they were appropriately informed about the
Almost one in five tradespeople rated their knowledge of the dangers of
asbestos as moderate or below, with only 64 per cent being confident about their
ability to identify materials likely to contain asbestos.
The International Conference on Asbestos Awareness and Management brings
together leading international experts in asbestos management, health, advocacy
and governance, with a focus on improving asbestos safety and management