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Sydney Opera House asbestos scare putting workers’ lives at serious risk

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Media Release

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Slater and Gordon Lawyers have criticised builders for not following appropriate safety procedures and potentially exposing construction workers to deadly asbestos as part of the Sydney Opera House revamp.

Yesterday, it was reported that 25 workers were possibly exposed to the hazardous material as part of the $200 million upgrade of the iconic building.

Slater and Gordon Senior Asbestos Lawyer Joanne Wade said appropriate testing should have been completed before workers were potentially exposed to the deadly material.

Ms Wade said it was disturbing to hear that work was only stopped when the Electrical Trades Union intervened - five days after asbestos was detected.

“Asbestos is still present in many buildings across Sydney and can be very dangerous when it’s disturbed,” Ms Wade said.

“This company should have known that no matter what contact the workers had with asbestos, the dangers were very real.

“Disturbed asbestos without proper precautions can release harmful dust that if breathed in can cause asbestos-related diseases.”

Ms Wade said these workers may have been exposed and for some of them they may not suffer the consequences for years or decades.

“I can’t understand how in this day and age, workers can be exposed to asbestos even with all the risks known and the protocols that need to be followed,” Ms Wade said.

“Whether it’s the Sydney Opera House or your own house, asbestos is safe when it’s not disturbed. It is a very real danger if it is disturbed without proper precautions.”

Ms Wade said workers who have been exposed can register their exposure by visiting the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency website - www.asbestossafety.gov.au