Work on NBN suspended amid asbestos fears

Work on NBN suspended amid asbestos fears

Summary: Work on the NBN has been suspended in a residential area of Sydney amid fears contractors haven't safely handled the removal of asbestos.

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TOPICS: NBN, Telstra
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Telstra is conducting an audit into the practices of contractors upgrading pits as part of the NBN roll-out, after a Penrith resident contacted WorkCover concerned that asbestos safety procedures weren't followed.

Hundreds of residents and contractors may have been exposed to asbestos, stirred up and spread by workers who failed to follow safe handling guidelines, News Limited reports.

Work in the area was "immediately shut down", the contractor Service Stream was suspended and sites were "safely secured," a Telstra spokesman said in a statement.

"The safe and proper handling and disposal of asbestos is an absolute and not-negotiable priority," he said.

Telstra is hoping it will have sites cleaned up by Thursday and is seeking approval from affected residents to begin "comprehensive cleaning of their properties", he added.

As part of the national audit, Telstra will examine subcontractors' asbestos management procedures, compliance monitoring, asbestos awareness and competency, public notification where work involves asbestos and what action can be undertaken to remedy potential problems.

"We absolutely expect our contractors to get this type of work right each and every time so we are extremely concerned proper processes may not have been followed on a small number of occasions," Telstra chief operations officer Brendon Riley said.

"We are conducting this audit to ensure the law and our own strict guidelines are adhered to at all times."

Topics: NBN, Telstra

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37 comments
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  • Shocking Headline

    "Work on NBN Suspended" is a dreadfully misleading headline - its only shutdown in one area.
    mwyres@...
    • Don't worry mwyres I'm certain only a few would be fooled by this.
      Hubert Cumberdale
    • Which is why you have a summary

      Who just reads the headline? ;)
      Josh Taylor
      • Who?

        FttN advocates...
        Gav70
      • Sorry Josh

        The headline sets the scene and the perception bias filters, the reader reads the article and comprehends it in terms of the headline. Technique beloved by advertising and PR firms
        Read up on it.
        Go to Google News, select NBN as a filter and just run your eyes down the page. The impression that anyone would get without taking the trouble to read the actual articles is that it is NBN's contractors and NBN's sloppy work, (some even in the article still blame the NBN and Labor). I speak to people and the general public believes it is the NBN's doing and it is Pink Batts 2 on steroids. Many just see the headline and MAYBE the initial summary
        Abel Adamski
      • Get use to it Josh

        Post anything critical of NBNCo and be attacked.

        It's the new knowledge class, formerly ignorance but word redefinition popular with them.

        Anyone able to find the talkback this was raised weeks ago? Always run to read the usual talkbackers.
        Richard Flude
        • "Post anything critical of NBNCo and be attacked."

          The criticism was actually directed at Telstra (and rightfully so) what a clusterfucк! Clearly they can't be trusted with telecommunications infrastructure based on this one incident... oh wait, you just read the headline and assumed NBN were to blame. I can see how you would be confused now. Perhaps Abel has a point afterall?
          Hubert Cumberdale
          • Subcontractors working on the NBN

            I posted a link to this story yesterday.

            Many stories of NBN subcontractors cutting corners (not one incident), yet NBNCo is never to blame. Keep up the good work;-)
            Richard Flude
          • Oops hit post, the details

            "Telstra's audit follows a string of scandals, including the dumping of dozens of plastic bags filled with deadly asbestos fibres metres from a primary school at Ballarat this month.

            In Adelaide, NBN sub-contractors dumped an asbestos-reinforced telecoms box on an empty block at Sydney's Seaforth last month, where it was then discovered by a child and his father.

            In Perth, NBN construction partner Syntheo is investigating photographs of two construction workers using a mash hammer to dismantle an old Telstra pit. Another contractor was suspended at Mandurah, 65km south of Perth, after employees in the office of local MP Don Randall took photos of asbestos-contaminated concrete strewn near a pit.

            The Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union's national NBN construction and project officer, David Mier, warned that up to 85 per cent of contractors working in pits containing asbestos in Tasmania had not completed safety training.

            "It's also come to light that, because there's an online induction (for asbestos handling), some companies are just getting the office girl or lad to do the online inductions," he said."
            http://m.theaustralian.com.au/business/in-depth/nbn-work-exposes-families-to-asbestos-risk/story-e6frgaif-1226652607700
            Richard Flude
          • And the unOz

            has this item
            http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/in-depth/asbestos-fears-stop-nbn-work-as-workplace-safety-agency-investigates/story-e6frgaif-1226653569762.

            Regardless of Title, stating it is Telstra's responsibility. You may wish to read the comments.
            The professional seagull managers and beancounters screwing it up as usual and now the consequences
            Abel Adamski
          • "I posted a link to this story yesterday."


            Sorry Fluddy. I am on Zdnet. I am reading Zdnet. I am not reading The Australian nor should I be expected to read it when on a tech website like Zdnet. This is Zdnet.

            It says on the AAP article replicated here three key things:

            1. That "Work on NBN" is "suspended"
            2. That "Telstra is conducting an audit"
            3. That "the contractor Service Stream was suspended"

            Based on this can you tell us (in your own words) who you believe:

            1. Is to blame.
            2. Should take responsibility.
            3. Who should fix the problem.

            Don't forget to consider that $11 billion NBNco has to shell out to Telstra when making your decision.
            Hubert Cumberdale
          • The contractors are responsible for the issue

            Those that contract them are responsible. Those that contract them are responsible.

            Not interested in any other news sources; clearly helps your position.

            NBNCo shelling out $11b without appropriate oversight is part of the problem. Telstra not supervising their contractors on the NBN part of the problem. Sub-contractors cutting corners for NBN work part of the problem. You only see 2 & 3.

            This project is a disaster; everyone but NBNCo & Labor to blame. Asbestos issues known well before the project commenced, yet now they're surprised.
            Richard Flude
          • "Not interested in any other news sources"

            This is Zdnet. I'll discuss Zdnet articles here and Australian articles on The Australian. Hope that helps.




            "Asbestos issues known well before the project commenced"

            Exactly. So you concede Telstra are to blame. Finally we are getting somewhere...




            "yet now they're surprised."

            False.

            No one is surprised. It was Telstra’s job to take care of it. It has been discussed many times before this and yet Telstra decided not to do anything here.

            It is their fault.

            They own the ducts. Not NBNco.

            It is their responsibility.
            Hubert Cumberdale
          • Yet you ZDNet source lead you to believe

            This was an issolated incident. Might be time to broaden your reading;-)

            Telstra only issue; nothing to do with NBN. Even Syntheo is Telstra fault. Let see where the lawsuit settle; my money on NBNCo.
            Richard Flude
          • LOL. So you actually think NBNco are responsible for fixing ducts owned by Telstra. That's very interesting;-)



            btw if you want to broaden your own reading perhaps going beyond the headline here might help you;-)

            "Telstra is hoping it will have sites cleaned up by Thursday and is seeking approval from affected residents to begin"

            Telstra have accepted responsibility. Your opinion null and void;-)



            "Yet you ZDNet source lead you to believe This was an issolated incident."

            Fluddy imagining things or yet another straw-man;-)
            Hubert Cumberdale
          • It is not one incident, but many

            Subcontractors working on the NBN responsible.

            Telstra has not accepted responsibility.

            Affected sites will not be cleaned up by today; some areas facing hostile citizens unhappy with proposed remediation.
            Richard Flude
          • Duhh

            Richard
            "NBNCo shelling out $11b without appropriate oversight is part of the problem"
            So easily we forget that wich we wish to.
            Remember the long and protracted negotiations with phalanges of Lawyers between NBN and Telstra. that $11Bill was the result of that as was Telstra building transits and 30 years lease of facilities. The Pits and pipes and ducts were leased on a fit for purpose basis.

            Telstra HAS NOT been contracted to do anything in relation to the inground infrastructure.
            That is why they would prefer FTTN, they don't have to remediate the last mile which actually is the major component re remediation. Untill some big noting turkey orders a fibre connection
            Abel Adamski
    • the matter is

      far more significant than one area.
      A question being given the matter of the state of the pits has been known for some time why has this been managed so poorly?
      Blank Look
      • Exactly

        I thought Telstra was paid to remediate issues such as these, why are NBN contractors even running into these problems?
        Tinman_au
      • "why has this been managed so poorly?"

        Telstra want to make sure they don't do anymore than they have to. They are notorious for this type of behavior.
        Hubert Cumberdale