Some Telstra contractors have been found to have participated only in basic asbestos awareness and competency training, the telco says.
Telstra on Wednesday announced a number of new requirements for its three key National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout contractors in relation to asbestos handling for pit remediation.
Telstra’s preliminary review uncovered incidents of possible non-compliance with asbestos handling guidelines by its contractors.
Telstra has told its contractors that they must make improvements before returning to work, and warned that if they do not comply their contract will be terminated.
“We will not allow recommencement of cement pit remediation work until we are satisfied the necessary safety measures are in place,” Telstra’s Chief Operations Officer Brendon Riley said in a statement.
Asbestos was found at a Telstra pit in Penrith in May as part of the NBN rollout, and more problems have been discovered at telecommunications works in Ballarat, Perth, Adelaide, Tasmania and Queensland.
Unions called for work on the NBN roll-out to stop until Telstra and NBNCo could meet demands on workplace safety.
Telstra said contractors will have to increase supervision of sub-contractors, see that all staff complete mandatory training in asbestos management, and ensure all field staff carry adequate supplies for safe asbestos handling.
Telstra is reviewing each contractor’s sub-contractor supply chain to ensure safety arrangements are clear.
Mr Riley said the number of inspectors and quality specialists would near 200 as NBN volumes increase.
“These specialists will be critical in inspecting and supervising asbestos-related remediation work by contractors and their sub-contractors,” he said.
The majority of asbestos pit remediation and handling is being undertaken as a result of the NBN project, and Telstra said it was working with NBNCo to better engage the community.
This includes advising affected residents about the scheduling of activity, disclosing locations, maintaining transparency on procedures and clear lines of communication to handle public issues.
Telstra has established a hotline for any resident concerned about work in their area.
The number is 1800 067 225.