Asbestos discovered in roof panels of a Perth Hospital

20 July 2016

The government of Western Australia (WA) will carry out an audit of the products of Chinese materials supplier Yuanda after white asbestos was discovered in roof panels by a worker at the under-construction Perth Children’s Hospital last week.

Main contractor on the A$1.2bn scheme, Chinese-owned John Holland, is holding one-on-one meetings with all workers who may have had contact with the panels.

Government tests confirmed on Thursday that the tiles contained white asbestos, or chrysotile, after a union commissioned its own test when a worker raised the alarm.

Yuanda’s Australian MD Paul Dawson claimed his company had been the victim of fraudulent test certificates provided by two Chinese suppliers.

Air sampling tests at the site over a 48-hour period, by three independent testing organisations, have all returned negative results for asbestos.

Contractor John Holland said the panels were delivered fully encapsulated and present no risk to people if the casing is not penetrated. However, it will now replace all the panels.

“Yuanda Australia provided John Holland with inspection and test certificates for all of its products supplied and installed at the PCH project,” the company stated. “Specifically, these certificates confirmed that the atrium roof top panels did not contain asbestos.

Yuanda was found to have also supplied metal skirting contaminated with asbestos to a tower under construction in Brisbane that will become the Queensland government’s new executive building.

WA Building Commissioner Peter Gow announced on Friday that he will carry out an independent audit of the use of Yuanda products all over the state, starting with Perth Children’s Hospital. At least 10 buildings would be tested

Gow said regulators are also working to identify how this product containing asbestos was able to enter the country, and would take action against builders or importers if required.

The A$1.2bn Perth Children’s Hospital is being built on the QEII Medical Centre site in Nedlands and will be the state’s dedicated children’s hospital. It was due to open in October 2016.

Exposure to white asbestos can lead to lung diseases such as cancer and mesothelioma.

Read the latest issue

Latest Issue