The Health Directorate have posted a remarkable warning:
ACT Health is today advising staff, patients and visitors who visited levels 7 and 9 of the main tower block at Canberra Hospital yesterday about the detection of airborne fibres following recent air monitoring.
It is important to note that the steps that the hospital is taking are precautionary. They are a result of formal monitoring of refurbishment work, taking place on level 8 of the hospital, under widely-recognised arrangements to ensure health and safety on a work site.
In accordance with Safe Work Australia’s Code of Practice: How to Safely Remove Asbestos, the refurbishment work has been paused. The code is recognised as the standard that is applied in a situation like this.
The site remains safely contained while investigations take place to determine if the unknown fibres are mineral, organic, or asbestos.
ACT Health Public Health physician, Dr Charles Guest, said: “The air monitoring is in place as part of standard safety measures associated with refurbishment works taking place on Level 8.”
“The work on Level 8 includes the removal of old vinyl adhesive known to contain bonded asbestos fibres.
“Removal of the old vinyl adhesive is being undertaken by a fully certified and experienced asbestos remover in accordance with laws and all relevant safety procedures, codes of practice and guidelines.
“We consider risk of asbestos exposure to be remote. However, air monitoring on Tuesday at Canberra Hospital detected unidentified fibres on level 7 and 9 of the main tower block (Building 1).
UPDATE 07/03/13 15:36: We’ve been updated that the fibres detected were linen.