More than 30 workers exposed to asbestos in Sydney Opera House renovations, union says

Published: 11 October 2017

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At least 35 electricians working on renovations at the Sydney Opera House have been exposed to potentially deadly asbestos, according to the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

Workers walked off the job on Monday after asbestos was discovered in some woven matting during the $200 million renovations.

SafeWork NSW confirmed the material found was friable asbestos – which can crumble into powder making it easier to inhale and cause damage.

However, SafeWork NSW said on Monday that no worker was exposed to asbestos as they were wearing personal protective equipment at the time.

EUT secretary Dave McKinley said the material was found in the ceiling space of the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

“Opera House workers, performers and patrons have been put at serious risk because builder Laing O’Rouke has continually failed to find a solution to this critical safety issue,” he said.

“The NSW Government owns this building and must step up to ensure the asbestos removal is done properly as part of this major upgrade.”

It comes two months after asbestos was found in an accessibility tunnel in the Joan Sutherland Theatre, which led to another walk-off from workers.