After tests confirmed the presence of asbestos at the Sydney Opera House, a union has placed a work ban on the ongoing renovation.

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) announced 25 workers involved in the renovation were exposed to asbestos fibres found in the wiring of the iconic building. ETU said both the union and the workers were not notified promptly of the seriousness of the findings.

ETU NSW Justin Page also said that an immediate work ban has been placed by the union, reiterating that necessary risk assessments were not carried out. The ban prohibits any work that involves accessing risers and penetrations that carry electrical services between floors and through walls.

Dangers of being exposed to Asbestos

On the other hand, opposition arts spokesman Walt Secord echoed calls for a full risk assessment. He noted the dangers of being exposed to the harmful mineral saying, “no worker or member of the public should be exposed to deadly asbestos and work should not commence until it is 100 percent safe to do so.”

However, Laing O’Rourke, the building company undertaking the renovations, insisted that an asbestos management plan was in place and that work was continuing as normal. A spokesperson from the company said the area of concern was isolated and the material was safely removed last week.

Investigations are already underway to assess all the circumstances.


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