The New South Wales government has increased maximum fines for asbestos-related incidents to more than $2 million as it strengthens workplace laws.
While a nation-wide ban on the manufacture, use and import of asbestos has been in place for nearly 20 years, the NSW government says asbestos still makes it way into many workplaces today.
In order to reduce its prevalence, the state has introduced a suite of new measures and harsher penalties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
The new laws include increasing maximum fines from close to $800,000 to almost $2.2 million and lifting prison time from five to ten years for the worst offenders.
It also includes “stopping employers gaming WHS laws by banning the use of insurance to pay for WHS fines as a ‘cost of doing business’,” the government said in a press release.
The state will also establish a silica worker register to track and trace exposed workers to enable early intervention and better healthcare research.
NSW Minister for Work Health and Safety and Industrial Relations Sophie Cotsis said, “I’m sick and tired of seeing lives unnecessarily lost and people being injured at work. These new laws demonstrate just how seriously this government takes keeping workers safe in NSW.
“Everyone deserves a safe place to work, everyone deserves to come home safely to their family and loved ones”.