Telstra pit work to restart in two weeks

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Telstra pit work to restart in two weeks

Ends nearly three-month halt.

Telstra contractors will pick up their tools and recommence remediation work on the telco's pits from August 19.

Telstra called a stop work on May 30 after several cases of unsafe asbestos handling were discovered just days apart. 

It committed to recruit a 200-strong team of workers to supervise all pit and pipe remediation undertaken by contractors, completed an “urgent audit” on the work and put its contractors and subcontractors through urgent further training on asbestos handling.

The telco today announced its contractors would recommence staged remediation on its pits in two weeks' time.

It said it had put in place enhanced requirements for contractors involved in remediation of Telstra pits.

“We advised our contractors today that only companies which hold a Class B licence and can certify their staff have relevant training will start work from 19 August. We expect the workforce to steadily ramp up as more contractors meet these stringent requirements,” chief operations officer Brendon Riley said in a statement.

Riley said Telstra had appointed 125 new trained Telstra staff for the promised 200-strong team to supervise the pit remediation.

“We have updated our process and procedures increasing our level of supervision so the community has confidence this work is being completed safely.”

Telstra will brief relevant councils prior to NBN remediation work as well as affected residents and businesses.

“In the case of emergency works, we intend to doorknock to attempt contact,” Riley said.

Telstra told investors in June there was no material financial risk to the company over the incident.

“We have been managing the risk of the asbestos within our network for many years,” Telstra chief David Thodey said at the time.

Federal workplace safety agency ComCare was engaged to inspect the work, health and safety systems at Telstra and relevant contractors. Telstra is also working with the Office of Asbestos Safety to create a strategy to deal with the safe handling of asbestos.

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