Rush on asbestos courses

August 12, 2013 at 3:54 PM

TRAINING provider TasTafe has ramped up asbestos training courses to ensure Tasmanian workers are ready to go on August 19 when Telstra allow National Broadband Network workers back on the job.

Telstra has brought in several new safety requirements before remediation works begin on Telstra pits on August 19, prompting some fears there may not be enough workers with the appropriate qualifications to continue with the NBN rollout.

New TasTAFE CEO Stephen Conway said yesterday training was happening on a daily basis to fit with demand for the asbestos awareness course required by workers on the NBN rollout.

"We have responded very quickly," Mr Conway said.

"We have a mobile training facility to put in place wherever there is demand.

"We are rolling out courses on a daily basis with the subcontractors and we have been working closely with Visionstream."

The one-and-a-half-day course will become a legal requirement in Tasmania on January 1 next year, but Telstra has insisted on the additional safety measure for workers on the NBN.

"We have said all along that we take the matter very seriously and wouldn't recommence remediation until we were completely satisfied that all necessary safeguards were in place," Telstra spokesman James Howe said yesterday.

"This meant that a lot of work has had to be done before we could say with certainty to contractors what sort of training or licence would be required."

Mr Howe denied speculation other states would be able to get up and running on the NBN earlier than Tasmania.

"There is no favouritism or prioritising one state over another," he said.

"We told all contractors of the new requirements at the same time and there was equal opportunity for all contractors, irrespective of location.

"The only reason some states will be quicker than others is if contractors already have the licence.

"We understand the impact the stop work may have had on some of our contractors and subcontractors but our priority throughout has been to ensure the safety of workers and the community, something we thought would be a view held unanimously."

Civil Contractors Federation chief executive Tony Cook said it was still unclear how much contractors will be paid for the remediation work.

Contractors continue to negotiate over future pay rates with Visionstream, the company overseeing the rollout in Tasmania.