Despite the efforts of the Bernie Banton Foundation and Asbestos Awareness Week, research conducted by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) shows that more work needs to be done to educate DIY home renovators.
The research shows an overall positive improvement in people’s awareness of the dangers of asbestos, how informed people feel about asbestos and their ability to identify asbestos in the home. It also reveals people feel more informed about the dangers of asbestos than they did in 2016, but below what was measured in 2014.
ASEA has conducted the research every two years since 2014 to track shifts in community awareness about the risks of asbestos. It measures responses from the general public, tradespeople, DIY home renovators and real estate agents.
The report finds that more tradespeople and DIY home renovators say they know how to protect themselves from exposure to asbestos and there is an increase in tradespeople who say they ‘take asbestos and its dangers very seriously’.
Among those who removed asbestos themselves, however, 21 percent didn’t seek any information and relied on their own ‘common sense/judgement’.
“It’s very encouraging that more people feel sufficiently informed about asbestos than four years ago,” says ASEA chief executive officer Justine Ross.
“But there are some worrying indications that too many DIY home renovators aren’t seeking the information they need to be safe, relying instead on their own ‘common sense/judgement’.
“There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, and with one in three Australian homes containing some form of asbestos, the risk to home renovators is significant.”
Ross says the latest research indicates that community education and awareness campaigns work and, given the risks to the home renovation sector, much more could be done to reach them.
“The popularity of home renovation reality TV shows seems to be a factor in driving an increase in intentions to renovate.
“One third of DIY home renovators we surveyed said they would access information about asbestos from home renovation reality TV shows. Clearly, these programs can play an important part in community education and information.”
Key findings from the report include:
- 59 percent of general public consider being knowledgeable about asbestos and its related dangers as ‘very important’ – up from 52 percent in 2016 and 43 percent in 2014
- the proportion of tradespeople who feel poorly informed or worse about asbestos has halved
- more than one in five tradespeople indicated a desire for more training on asbestos and its related dangers
- there has been an increase in the proportion of real estate agents and private landlords who have had formal asbestos training (24 percent in 2018, up from 20 percent in 2016 and 19 percent in 2014)
- 47 percent of real estate agents and private landlords, however, indicated they feel they needed more training
- DIY home renovators aged 30 to 39 are more likely to undertake a renovation or demolition
- where an asbestos assessment was undertaken, 22 percent of DIY home renovators said they did it themselves
- where asbestos was identified, 20 percent of home renovators removed it themselves
- of those who removed themselves, 46 percent said it was because they knew how to do it; 39 percent said it was to save money, and
- 21 percent didn’t seek any information and relied on their own 'common sense/judgement'.
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