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    Science of Safety Podcast: Episode 59.

    November 14, 2019



    Science of Safety Podcast.

    Episode 59:
    Loose-Fill Asbestos.

    Science of Safety Podcast.

    Episode 59:
    Loose-Fill Asbestos.

    Science of Safety Podcast.

    Episode 59:
    Loose-Fill Asbestos.

    In this episode Steven Nikolovski, State Inspector for Asbestos and Demolition at SafeWork NSW joins us to discuss loose-fill asbestos, what it is, and why it so bad.

    Loose-fill asbestos is a dangerous form of asbestos used as insulation material and manufactured from raw crushed asbestos. It was used as ceiling insulation in the ’60s and ‘70s by a small group of companies due to its excellent insulating and fire-retardant properties before becoming banned from use. Loose-fill asbestos is friable, that is, there is no means of preventing the tiny fibres from being released into the air, drifting from the ceiling to other parts of the home and inhaled by its occupants.




    Guest Bio:

    Steven Nikolovski (pictured left) is the State Inspector for Asbestos and Demolition at SafeWork NSW. He has been an inspector for 15 years in various roles including construction, investigations and asbestos and demolition services.

    Steve was recently seconded to the Loose Fill Asbestos Taskforce and was the Inspections Manager, with the program completing over 71,000 inspections with no major safety incidents. Steve was also seconded to WorkSafe NZ after the earthquakes in Christchurch, providing training and expertise around asbestos and demolition matters and mobile plant safety.

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    In this episode, Mark & Steven discuss the following:

    • What is the difference between non-friable and friable asbestos containing materials?
    • What is loose fill asbestos and why is it so bad?
    • Was loose fill asbestos only used in Australia or was it also used in other parts of the world?
    • Many of our listeners may be familiar with the name ‘Mr Fluffy’, but can you explain who that is and what their business was?
    • What are the health risks for those that were living in a house with loose fill asbestos?
    • What did NSW do about loose fill asbestos?
    • If someone suspects they may have loose fill asbestos in their house, what should they do?
    • Where can workplaces or homeowners get more information on Loose fill asbestos?

    Loose-fill asbestos is 100% pure asbestos, from a risk point of view there is a very high chance of disturbance and inhalation. This is a serious concern, not only here in Australia where it was used as ceiling insulation, but also in Britain where workers took it home for use as a cheap source of insulation, and in the U.S. where it has been found in the form of vermiculite-contaminated insulation. In Australia the term ‘Mr Fluffy’ is well known, it refers to the widespread asbestos contamination incident that occurred in the suburbs of Canberra and NSW where loose-fill asbestos was installed as insulation by blowing the product into the roof spaces of homes. This resulted in thousands of people forced from their homes for remediation activity, with tens of thousands of others exposed to the potentially deadly asbestos. Tune in as we delve into the topic of loose-fill asbestos and the steps you need to take if you suspect your property or workplace is, or has been, affected.


    Additional Resources:

    Contact a 3M Safety Specialist at scienceofsafetyanz@mmm.com for more information.