Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that is widely used in building construction and maintenance.
It is versatile, plentiful and ideal as a fire-proofing and insulation material but it can be deadly.
It is dangerous because if you inhale asbestos fibres, they can become lodged in your chest and your body’s natural defences may not be able break them down.
This can lead to lung diseases such as asbestosis, which is the scarring of the lungs, lung cancer and mesothelioma, which is the cancer of the linings of the lungs or stomach, after being repeatedly exposed to the fibres over a number of years.
Generally, asbestos is only a risk when fibres are released into the air.
If materials containing asbestos are in good condition, then it is safe to leave them where they are.
At the moment, the Government does not have a law or regulation to empower its officers to control the use of asbestos like in Australia.
Last week, a construction company doing renovation work on a residential building in Port Moresby was alleged to have used asbestos materials.
If the NCDC decides to take action on the company, what law would it use to justify its action?
Are the Department of Industrial Relation’s occupational health and safety officers and that of NCDC and others in relevant Government authorities really geared up to face the reality of risks posed by asbestos materials used in buildings and construction industries in PNG?
The Government must introduce specific laws so its officers can address the many occupational health and safety problems.
Otherwise, they will be seen as a toothless dog barking but cannot bite.
Yamox, Watabung, EHP