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Above: Artist’s impression of the Perth Children’s Hospital, render courtesy the John Holland Group.
The West Australian Government has confirmed that asbestos has been found in roofing panels imported from China in Perth Children’s Hospital, after tests were carried out on samples of the building material.
Yesterday, Health Minister John Day confirmed that tests on a roof panel had come back positive for white (chrysotile) asbestos.
The findings come after a worker cut into a sealed panel while installing a fan and discovered what looked to him like asbestos inside. The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has also conducted its own tests and confirmed they too have come back positive.
“Our immediate concern is for the workers who have installed this product and also for the potential on-going health risks to workers and future patients at the hospital,” said CFMEU WA state secretary Mick Buchan.
Buchan said the project developers, the John Holland Group, failed to conduct any pre-site or on-site tests of the product prior to installation.
“It’s another massive bungle by John Holland, who allowed this product to come onsite without being tested to ascertain if it met Australian safety standards. Our union has been warning that cheap imported products should not go from ship to shore to site without being tested beforehand. We allege that Holland has gone for a cheaper product to cut costs and in doing so has put the health and welfare of workers at risk, let alone future occupants of the hospital”.
The product is a fibrous based material that is used as a filler to stop vibrations between the external cladding and internal panelling, and was imported by Chinese manufacturing firm, YUANDA.
“This is the second asbestos discovery linked to a construction site in Australia supplied by YUANDA, which has at least five major high-rise projects around Australia, as well as a medical research facility in South Australia,” the abc report.
It is reported that in 2013, John Holland independently tested the panels, and found them to be asbestos-free. There are 150 of the panels on the building’s eighth floor.
Workers who were exposed to the dust will be tested, however concerns remain for the effects of the potential spread of the dust – which could have contaminated workers’ homes and cars, thus possibly affecting their families. There is also concern that the dust could have spread through ventilation system within the hospital.