Material which was disturbed at the construction site of the new Royal Hobart Hospital has been confirmed as asbestos as dangers associated with what is currently the largest dollar value construction project in Tasmania continues to come to light.

Following the discovery of material similar to that found in a ceiling in a different building which necessitated the temporary relocation of staff around a week earlier, Health Minister Michael Ferguson has confirmed the material in question did in fact contain asbestos.

According to Ferguson, a single fibre was identified in the sample which was tested, and the individual who performed the work in question was adequately protected whilst there was no danger to public health arising out of the incident.

Long considered a critical project from a health perspective, the $689 million redevelopment of the Royal Hobart Hospital will deliver a new ten storey inpatient precinct and a new cancer centre as well as new facilities including a new outpatient clinic, a new medical imaging facility and a new assessment and planning unit.

Its construction, however, has been dogged by delays and cost blowouts along with the discovery of mold in a temporary building which had been designed to house patients throughout the course of the construction process.

The latest move follows earlier calls from Unions Tasmania for a complete audit of all areas of construction throughout the hospital – moves the union’s Kevin Harkins says are necessary because of a current reliance on old and potentially out of date asbestos registers to determine exposure.

Whilst the latest incident obviously relates to the redevelopment of an older building which was built before asbestos was banned in Australia, it also follows the discovery of asbestos within roof panels imported from China on another major hospital at Perth.

The use of asbestos containing materials was banned throughout Australia but there are growing fears about products which contain the material being imported from places such as China and India.

In regard to the latest discovery, Ferguson said risks associated with asbestos had been well known since the start of the redevelopment and the need for care had been clearly identified up-front.


  • Another good alert Ahn,

    It's a worries me that China has different codes (different stress factors and different uniformity of product and different percentages of impurities as regards steel in particular from China.

    I also inspected four prestige units with windows imported from China… and the windows had started to rot even before the units had been sold!

    But did you know how much our governments did not care about health relating to asbestos… after 1982?

    Brake lining manufacturers for instance were given at least a 10 year period to sell their asbestos-laden products… and I believe this extended to trains also. Lord knows how many other products were in the same category.

    • You wouldn't or shouldn't eat Chinese supplied no frills food yet we import Chinese supposed high tensile bolts that are falsely claimed to meet Australian Standards, why should we be surprised when we find asbestos in building products imported from China. Its about time an organisation like CSIRO did random checks on the claims of all imported building materials with an emphasis on those countries that play loose with the truth. Government intervention is needed to ensure health and safety and provide minimum standards for imported products that can affect the health and safety of all Australians.

  • And still more fearmongering about Chinese products from the media. Imported goods are perfectly fine as long as you make sure you know what you're getting – you can access top notch goods from the PRC as well as cheap, sub-par junk.

    • Disagree totally, no problems with Chinese products as long as they meet Australian Standards, unfortunately a significant number of Chinese manufacturers misrepresent their products.

  • Isn't the issue the fact that our building codes don't allow Asbestos products to be incorporated into our buildings. The issue isn't how good the products are it is the failure of the Quality Assurance programs that these building companies are supposed to adhere to. Who is certifying compliance in these buildings. It wont matter nobody does anything about it anyway.