Australians love to renovate, getting inspiration on The Block, and weekend trips to Bunnings are part of our psyche.
Unfortunately, this national passion has led to a “third wave” of people being diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure during home renovations. At Slater and Gordon, we’ve assisted hundreds of people who have contracted asbestos diseases because of home renovations.
Why is it called the third wave?
The “first wave” involved asbestos related diseases among asbestos mine, mill and transport workers who handled raw asbestos fibre. The “second wave” impacted workers using products that contained asbestos during the course of their work in industry, including tradesmen, building and construction workers, rail workers and power station workers. The “third wave” of disease is now affecting all members of society, regardless of their occupation, as they become exposed to asbestos fibre as a result of renovation works. Sadly, partners and children of people doing the renovations can also be exposed to asbestos.
How can home renovations lead to asbestos exposure?
Asbestos cement building products were used widely in Australia and it’s estimated that nearly one -third of homes built before the mid-1980s contain some type of asbestos product. A total ban on all asbestos products did not become effective in Australia until December 2003.
Asbestos can be found in lots of places around the home including:
- External and internal walls
- Compressed floor sheets
- Loose fill insulation
- Water and drain pipes
- Electrical boxes
There are many types of home renovations that can result in exposure to asbestos including:
- Performing extensions
- Removing walls
- Bathroom and kitchen remodels
- Installing air conditioning units
- Sanding back walls to prepare for painting
- Building garages
- Replacing old vinyl
- Demolishing old sheds and outbuildings
Partners, children and other people living in the home can have exposure to asbestos from simply being in the vicinity whilst these works are carried out. Other examples of situations where possible exposure can occur include:
- Washing clothes that has asbestos fibres attached from the renovations
- Sweeping and cleaning up after works are performed
- Holding sheets of fibro in place whilst another person makes cuts or hammers in nails
- Assisting with loading and unloading sheets of fibro.
You should avoid commencing home renovation works if you suspect that there could be asbestos in your home until it has been properly assessed by a NATA-accredited laboratory. Every state and territory of Australia has very strict rules concerning the removal of asbestos, and this should be followed for the safety of you and your loved ones.
How Slater and Gordon can help you:
If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should consult with a lawyer who regularly acts for people with asbestos diseases and is an expert in their field.
With over 35 years’ experience, Slater and Gordon has one of the largest and most experienced asbestos teams in Australia.
Our passionate team of lawyers have represented many people who have been exposed to asbestos through home renovations. In 2020, we had the privilege of representing a client who was exposed to asbestos whilst undertaking home renovations alongside her husband. Not only was she exposed to asbestos through direct renovations to her home, but she also helped construct chicken sheds and aviaries out of asbestos fibro. She was also exposed to asbestos dust as a result of renovations carried out at her workplace. As a result of these exposures, our client was very sadly diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in mid-2019. Our client and her family were devastated, and her anxieties were heightened as she had a daughter with a disability who relied on our client for care and assistance. We successfully resolved this client’s claim in 2020, which has brought her peace of mind that her daughter and the rest of her family are going to be looked after.
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, speak with a member of our team as soon as possible to understand your rights and your possible compensation options. We can organise in-home, in-hospital or video conference appointments to make the legal process as easy as possible for you.
Slater and Gordon also offers “no-win no-fee*” arrangements for dust disease claims. This means that if you don’t win, you don’t pay Slater and Gordon’s fees.
Our team will work tirelessly to help you get your entitlements. We also know that getting your legal compensation is only one of the many issues you may face after a mesothelioma diagnosis, that’s why at Slater and Gordon we also offer free social work services to help you address these other needs and help improve your wellbeing.
*For our full terms and conditions on our No Win, No Fee arrangements.
The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.