Asbestos found at new Perth Children’s Hospital

Asbestos has been found in the new Perth Children's Hospital.

Asbestos has been found in the new Perth Children’s Hospital.

Asbestos has been found in roof panels used to construct the new Perth Children’s Hospital, the state government has confirmed. 

The 15-centimetre thick panels are fully encapsulated in metal and contain cement boards.

It was found the cement boards, located on level 8,  could contain asbestos after a worker cutting a hole in the roof to install a smoke exhaust fan noticed an unusual white substance on Tuesday night. 

An initial test indicated the presence of asbestos but the sample was potentially contaminated after being placed in a worker’s toolbox, Health Minister John Day’s office confirmed. 

The level has been sealed off and will remain isolated in accordance with regulatory requirements until final cleaning is completed. 

A controlled test had now been conducted and results were due on Thursday.

External specialist consultants and contractors engaged by John Holland declared all other areas asbestos free. Work is continuing in other areas. 

Mr Day said the product incorporated within the sealed panels was manufactured in China where it was tested and found to be asbestos-free during accredited testing in 2013. There was nothing to suggest any fault in John Holland’s safety performance or processes in sourcing materials. 

There were about 150 similar panels on that floor.

“I have just been given a telephone briefing,” Mr Day told media on Wednesday. 

“I am advised there has not been any danger to workers because these panels have been fully encapsulated. 

“John Holland as the managing contractor has behaved entirely appropriately in the sourcing of its materials. 

“We do need to get the result. 

“Then we will act appropriately from there. 

“If it is confirmed .. they will need to be replaced.” 

He needed more information before he could confirm whether there would be any delay in the opening of the hospital. 

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union WA claims the hospital’s atrium roof is “riddled” with asbestos” and that the cheap Chinese concrete panels used by John Holland had put workers at risk. 

“Our immediate concern is for the workers who have installed this product and also for the potential on-going health risks to workers and future patients at the hospital,” CFMEU WA state secretary Mick Buchan said.

“We now have workers who have cut, sawn, nailed and drilled this product without any protection.” 

The latest bungle follows 900 fire doors having to be replaced in April because they did not comply with Australian standards and nearly 500 metres of water piping having to be ripped out and replaced due to a manufacturing defect.

John Holland, an Australia-based, Chinese-owned company, has a $1.2 billion contract with the Department of Health to build the hospital.