The new Perth Children’s Hospital’s roof is riddled with asbestos. Photo: Department of HealthSome construction workers at Perth Children’s Hospital are understood to have walked off site after the Health Minister revealed on Thursday morning the facility’s roof was riddled with asbestos.
Nanjing Night Net

More than 150 concrete roof panels at the hospital will have to be replaced by builder John Holland after a worker on Monday noticed an unusual white substance when he cut into the roof to install an exhaust fan.

Testing has confirmed the panels, supplied by Chinese company Yuanda, contained the deadly fibre, despite the product being certified as meeting Australian standards at the beginning of the $1.2 billion project.

Health Minister John Day conceded other major construction projects in WA which used Yuanda products, including the Perth Stadium and Fiona Stanley Hospital, could also contain asbestos, after the testing revealed a likely case of supply chain fraud.

“The panels have been fully tested in the early samples and they were certified as being appropriate for Australian standards,” he told Radio 6PR.

“I’m advised that John Holland appears to have acted in good faith all the way along…they feel very let down by their supplier.

“It should not have been there, it’s completely wrong and I think the manufacturer certainly has some explaining to do.”

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union WA claims the hospital’s atrium roof is “riddled” with asbestos and that the “cheap” Chinese concrete panels used by John Holland had put workers at risk.

“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,” CFMEU WA state secretary Mick Buchan said.

“We now have workers who have cut, sawn, nailed and drilled this product without any protection.”

Mr Buchan on Thursday told Radio 6PR he had taken a call from a distressed member on Wednesday night who was working on the hospital’s atrium.

“[He said] ‘I was on the scaffolding that day and I was helping cut all this, I was covered in dust, I went home, [my wife] washed my clothes, what are the health effects that could get carried through to her?’,” he said.

“Who would have thought that a product that was banned in Australian in 2003 could get through border protection and wind up on a brand new childrens hospital project?

“We’ve put it to Comcare [the national workplace safety regulator] that they need to immediately put a prohibition notice on that job until independent experts can come though and give it the all clear.”

WAtoday understands around half the construction workers at the hospital site have walked off the job on Thursday morning.

Project Director for John Holland Lindsay Albonico said the company became aware of the issue on Monday evening.

“We needed to validate what it was,” he said.

Mr Albonico admitted the fact asbestos was found inside a children’s hospital in this day and age was worrying.

“The moment I became concerned about that, we activated a management plan as thought it was asbestos, but without knowing it was abestos.”

“We cleared the site the moment that we knew.”

“There’s a process that industry adopts in terms of validating the delivery of safe products to a construction site – we followed that,” he said.

He said 40 workers had registered a concern about the incident.

– with James Mooney

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