A few years ago a retired school teacher called and asked if I renovated marblesheen pools containing Asbestos. At the time I’d been renovating pools for 15 years and had not been asked this question. While I was following a thorough duty of care process, I lost the job to a competitor. Later, I contacted the customer and discovered my competitor did not implement legislated safety controls during the job. It turns out our entire industry had not been working to the Asbestos code for nearly 30 years.

I couldn’t count the hours my team and I had spent grinding and jackhammering Marblesheen without checking for asbestos. It is not productive to worry about the damage this could have done to our health or pass blame on our predecessors. We started testing new projects and developing safe work procedures to fulfil our duty of care for the public, our clients and our team.

We aren’t alone in the industry, so this was a problem that we shared through SPASA. With their support, we worked with asbestos industry professionals and appropriate government departments to interpret our legal and safety responsibilities. With a good understanding of what was required we developed some procedures and some information to share with the industry.

Today I received a call from the competitor that took the school teachers project. He is still not testing and working with Asbestos as per building code. Why? He doesn’t believe the science and believes the cost of working to code is too expensive. I know he is not alone with this attitude, but I also know the good competitors and builders are doing the right thing. Since 2015 one facility has tested 87 pools on behalf of a combination of builders and the public. 38% of those marblesheen pools have tested positive for Asbestos. Some great trades have developed a variety of solutions to overcome this challenge. Over a couple of years, the initial shock of financial costs and legal scares has levelled off due to market forces and hard work.

In 2016, SPASA Queensland and SPASA Australia acknowledged our efforts awarding Jagun Pools + Landscapes the state and national Gold Awards for Education and Training. This weekend another industry professional will have the honour of winning these awards. This marks a closing chapter in our journey as the industry and public have clearly taken ownership of a shared problem.

I’d like to take this last chance to thank SPASA, Poolwerx, Cohlabs, Aztech Services and all the good builders that have stepped up to level the playing field.

Daniel Gibbs

Jagun Pools + Landscapes