Council response to independent asbestos investigation

31 May 2018

The Council endorsed its preliminary response to the independent asbestos investigation and the release of information from the final investigation report at this week’s Council meeting.

A summary of the outcomes and findings of the independent asbestos investigation conducted by Clyde & Co will be publicly released by 30 June 2018. Following completion of the ongoing SafeWork NSW and Environmental Protection Authority investigations, a redacted version of the final report will be made available to the public.

Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill, confirmed the Council's decision, stating, “Our approach to the release of the final investigation report is appropriate and maintains the commitment to the community whilst responsibly taking into account procedural fairness and the legal advice provided.

It supports and reinforces the positive steps underway to strengthen and improve safety and asbestos management and build a healthy and just safety culture in the organisation.”

The Council’s decision follows the completion of the investigation conducted by Clyde & Co. into asbestos management at the Lawson Carpark, Lawson Mechanics Institute and Lawson stockpile; the presence of asbestos containing material at the former Blackheath landfill; and Council’s approach to asbestos management and the systems, policies and procedures guiding operational practices.

The Mayor said, “Importantly, the independent investigation into asbestos management, initiated by the Council in November 2017, cleared the elected council of any wrongdoing. However it did identify gaps in the organisation’s past approach to asbestos management. Those gaps have been, and will continue to be, addressed.”

The Council has previously adopted all of the recommendations made by Clyde & Co and is making significant progress to implement these recommendations. Council’s response includes strengthening the roles and responsibilities relating to managing asbestos; a commitment to implement an internationally recognised safety management system; the appointment of a permanent Chief Safety Officer and establishing a dedicated asbestos response team; the development of asbestos management policy and procedures; rolling out a training and awareness program and building an organisational culture that values safety and the reporting of workplace safety matters.

“I am pleased with our considerable progress to date in responding to the recommendations of the investigation and in strengthening our safety and asbestos management”, the Mayor said. “More remains to be done. This work will continue as a priority focus of the Council into the future.”

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