WorkSafe issues demand to Harvey Norman over asbestos contamination at Fyshwick warehouse
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WorkSafe issues demand to Harvey Norman over asbestos contamination at Fyshwick warehouse

Harvey Norman has handed over documents about an asbestos scare at the retail giant's Fyshwick warehouse after a demand from the ACT's work safety watchdog.

A Harvey Norman spokeswoman confirmed the retailer had complied in full to the demand from WorkSafe ACT before the 3pm deadline.

Asbestos. Credit- Alamy

Asbestos. Credit- AlamyCredit:Chrispo / Alamy Stock Photo

WorkSafe ACT confirmed it had received the documents and would now assess if the demand for information had been fully met.

The work safety watchdog issued the demand for documents on Friday afternoon, saying it had not yet received a comprehensive asbestos assessment for the warehouse from Harvey Norman.

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Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones said WorkSafe ACT said a risk assessment - of how goods currently stored in the warehouse, or those that were stored in the warehouse and now sold or moved since February 2017, are to be managed - had also been outstanding at the time of the demand.

WorkSafe ACT last month slapped a prohibition notice on the warehouse after recent upgrades to the warehouse ceiling damaged some sections of bonded asbestos roof panels, causing them to become friable.

The notice is still in force.

It is understood the products potentially impacted by asbestos were large white goods, including washing machines and fridges, some furniture, and carpet products.

WorkSafe ACT said it issued the notice under the Work Health and Safety Act for Harvey Norman to provide documents and a risk assessment plan for managing potentially contaminated goods.

Mr Jones said he was disappointed that the notice had been issued as WorkSafe ACT had sought to work collaboratively with Harvey Norman's corporate office and the Fyshwick franchise since becoming aware of contamination.

"Our priority and focus at WorkSafe ACT is safety at all times," Mr Jones said.

"This includes safety of our community and also for the workers who may be impacted by contamination at the site.

"We have been asking for, ... a comprehensive asbestos assessment for the warehouse by Harvey Norman as well as a risk assessment of how goods currently stored in the warehouse, or those that were stored in the warehouse and now sold or moved since February 2017, are to be managed."

A Harvey Norman spokeswoman said: "Harvey Norman and its representatives have, and will continue to, work cooperatively with WorkSafe ACT.

"The safety of customers, staff and suppliers is Harvey Norman's highest priority."

Mr Jones said Access Canberra was also watching the response from Harvey Norman carefully from a fair trading and product safety perspective to ensure customers are provided with information and any necessary action in response to purchased goods.

"We want to ensure Canberrans are kept informed of this important safety issue and that they can have confidence that goods purchased are safe."

Harvey Norman said concerned customers could contact the Fyshwick store on 1800 572 011 or fyshwick.enquiries@au.harveynorman.com.

Michael Inman is a courts reporter for The Canberra Times

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