Water Corporation has completed its investigation into the exposure of employees and contractors to asbestos containing materials during repairs to the Minnivale Reservoir.
The key finding of the investigation was:-

There were multiple opportunities for asbestos to be identified on the Minnivale Reservoir site but contractors were not informed during the planning, design and construction phases of the refurbishment project.

The investigation also established that the asbestos containing material removed from the Minnivale Reservoir was contained either at a landfill facility or on site.  Extensive sampling of the Minnivale Reservoir site has not identified any asbestos fibres.

In addition to the externally reviewed investigation, an independent expert in asbestos risk management was engaged to conduct a re-enactment of grinding work undertaken during refurbishment of the Reservoir.

The results of the re-enactment show that asbestos was not present at a concentration exceeding the Workplace Exposure Standard, set by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission.

Water Corporation Chief Executive Officer Mrs Sue Murphy said she was encouraged by the result of the re-enactment and hoped it would provide reassurance to the people who carried our work at the reservoir during the project.

“I am sincerely sorry for the concern this news no doubt caused our employees and contractors, and I want to assure not only these people, but also the Western Australian public, we are taking full responsibility in every respect,” Mrs Murphy said.

“An analysis of about 1000 projects carried out in recent years shows no other such failure to communicate the risk of asbestos but we are taking all necessary steps to prevent this situation from ever occurring again.”

Mrs Murphy said the Corporation’s governance, processes and accountabilities for asbestos management had been reviewed with many improvements already initiated.
“This includes steps to ensure our project delivery process has multiple check points for asbestos identification and management,” Mrs Murphy said.

Water Corporation has informed Worksafe WA of the findings and outcomes of its investigation.

A copy of the investigation and other related documents are available at www.watercorporation.com.au/minnivale.

Fact File:

  • Water Corporation used the ICAM method (Incident Cause Analysis Method) – an industrial safety investigation tool used worldwide to conduct its investigation.
  • The investigation was independently reviewed and endorsed by Dr Graham Edkins, a workplace safety expert.
  • Dr Laurie Glossop, an expert in asbestos risk management was engaged to conduct a strictly controlled re-enactment of the grinding work.
  • Minnivale Reservoir is located around 180 km north east of Perth and is part of the Goldfields and Agricultural Water Supply.
  • Between March and September 2015 Water Corporation completed a refurbishment on the site, which included the replacement of the roof of the reservoir.
  • A total of 138 people either worked or visited the site during the refurbishment.  These people will be supported through regular health checks.
  • Asbestos was used in Western Australia in many building materials up until the 1980’s and like many buildings in the State, some Water Corporation’s assets contain asbestos material.
  • There is no risk at all to the water supply at the reservoir.

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