New research has found that an increasing number of DIY home renovators do not feel they are informed enough about asbestos, despite the number of home renovations requiring asbestos removal rising in the last two years.
Almost a quarter of all home renovations in the last two years required asbestos removal, yet half of home renovators do not obtain an asbestos assessment from a qualified professional.
And most DIYers – 74 per cent – have undertaken some home renovations themselves, even where they also used professional tradespeople.
The research was commissioned by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA).
Its findings are compared to a similar study two years ago, and show that DIY home renovators had the largest decline in awareness and attitudes about asbestos.
ASEA will use the research to guide a national approach to asbestos education and awareness.
“Recognition of the danger of asbestos is high among the general population, and more people feel strongly that knowledge about asbestos is important,” the Chief Executive of ASEA, Peter Tighe, said.
“However, fewer home renovators feel sufficiently informed and knowledgeable about it today than they did two years ago.
“Worryingly high numbers of home renovators are reluctant to pay for professional services like obtaining a proper asbestos assessment and the safe removal of asbestos.
“Accompanying these findings is an increase in the proportion of real estate agents and landlords who wrongly feel understanding asbestos is not important.
“After tradespeople, DIY home renovators are the most at-risk group of Australians for exposure to asbestos, so a decline in their awareness is a major concern.
“This research shows there is a pressing need for more education among home renovators about how to identify and safely remove and dispose of asbestos.”
The research found that tradespeople were more knowledgeable about asbestos than the rest of the population, but were also increasingly concerned about their exposure to asbestos.
One third of tradespeople felt they needed more training to safely deal with asbestos, even if they had already received formal training.
Other trends emerging from the research show a reluctance to pay for specialist services to deal with asbestos among most groups – tradespeople, DIYers, and landlords – with older people the only group more willing to pay.
The research also found lower levels of knowledge among younger people, and people who speak a language other than English at home.
- 76% of Australians felt it was important to be knowledgeable about asbestos (no change)
- 52% strongly agree it was important to be knowledgable (up from 43%)
- 49% said they felt knowledgeable about asbestos (down from 53%)
- 53% of_DIYers said they felt knowledgeable (down from 67%)
- 78% of DIYers felt that knowledge of asbestos was important (down from 87%)
- 84% of those aged over 50 felt knowledge was important compared to 70% of those under 50
- 62% of those aged over 50 felt knowledgeable compared to 40% of those under 50
- 39% of people who speak another language say they are knowledgeable of the dangers of asbestos compared to 53% who only speak English
- 36% who speak another language say they felt informed about the dangers compared to 50% who only speak English
- 74% of DIYers undertake some renovations themselves, either with or without assistance from professional tradespeople (down from 81%)
- 47% of DIYers do not conduct a risk assessment for asbestos before renovating (up from 44%)
- 32% of DIY home renovators undertake the removal of the asbestos themselves (down from 36%)
- 40% of estate agents/landlords believed that understanding asbestos is important. (down from 50%)
- 43% of landlords do not see it as their responsibility to find asbestos in their property