Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 6 2009 Contents 16
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For OHs asbestos eradication management:
single point of accountability
lies at the core of Defence’s
making the complete
inspection of more than
600,000 unique inventory items a
challenging yet achievable task.
After an initial scoping study of 16 selected
Defence sites earlier this year to determine the
extent of asbestos containing material (ACM)
across Defence’s inventory, a Defence Materiel
Organisation (DMO)-led Asbestos Inventory Tiger
Team was established to identify and remediate all
ACM inventory items by December 2010.
Director General Defence Asset and Inventory
Management, Ian Donoghue, said the appointment
of Vice Chief of the Defence Force (VCDF),
Lieutenant General (LTGEN) David Hurley, to lead
the program was a critical first step in achieving
“A single point of accountability will drive any
project and create a clear focus throughout the
organisation,” Mr Donoghue said.
“Broadly, individuals are accountable for
a whole range of things such as safety in the
workplace, such as good financial governance, but
where is the single point of accountability if things
go wrong? That’s where the importance of VCDF’s
leadership on this program comes in.”
With inventory housed in more than 1000
warehouses, stores and workshops across
Australia dating back to the 1970s and 80s, Mr
Donoghue likened the problem to a simple trip to
the hardware store.
“What do you do when you need to change a
washer at home? You go to the hardware store and
buy a packet of washers,” Mr Donogue said.
“But they don’t come in packets of one; they come
in packets of say, five. So you take the one out you need
and you put the spares in a drawer for later use.
“We’ve had the same issue in Defence but we
have got more than 30 years of this in every unit
Mr Donoghue said VCDF has now aligned
what has historically been a siloed way of dealing
with asbestos inventory management in Defence.
“Part of our problem before VCDF took the
lead was that every Group had their own systems
and processes in place and focussed on their
own area when dealing with asbestos in their
inventory,” Mr Donoghue said.
“But the question needed to be asked, who
was looking at the issue from a comprehensive,
whole-of-defence Defence viewpoint? This is what
VCDF is now doing.”
LTGEN Hurley said it was widely known that
inhalation of asbestos fibre could have serious
health consequences, and has encouraged
personnel to get ahead of the program and
eradicate asbestos from the workplace.
“Don’t keep ACM in your bottom drawer just
in case,” LTGEN Hurely said.
“They are a health risk for you and your
colleagues. The safety and welfare of our people is
of paramount importance.
“Defence has some formal exemptions because
some uses were confirmed as mission-critical — but
these exemptions expire at the end of 2010.
“For components that are exempt until
December 2010, our people also need to use the
correct personal protective equipment and the
correct packaging and handling procedures.”
Starting with inspection of every Joint
Logistics Unit (JLU) across the country, the
tiger teams will follow the supply chain down
to individual units. Items with ACM, including
gaskets, seals and even peg-board, will be bagged
and tagged for safe disposal by civilian contractors.
Tiger team Project Director Colonel (COL)
Gary Potter emphasised that while his teams’ main
responsibility would be identifying and bagging
and tagging ACM from the inventory, they would
also provide advice and educate unit personnel on
“This is not an audit,” COL Potter said. “We’re
not walking in with a clip board to assess a unit’s
hazard compliance. The AITT project is a free
service that will identify and physically collect
ACM within your commands.”
tiger team to tackle
By Jack Foster
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