Mould forces call centre closure

High levels of mould have forced the temporary closure of a government call centre in Moe.

The Department of Health and Human Services Victoria says it closed the building on Ollerton Avenue after it received a report on Wednesday that found mould levels “higher than they should be”.

“As a precaution, we are unable to use the building until more tests are done,” DHHSV spokeswoman Vanessa O’Shaughnessy said.

One hundred and forty staff are employed at the centre, which takes public housing-related calls, with about 50 to 60 people in the building at any one time.

Ms O’Shaughnessy said an environmental consultant inspected the building on Thursday morning and the department expected to receive a report within five working days.

She said prior to taking occupancy of the building mid-last year, a building inspection found mould was present in small quantities, but “not to the extent it would cause any issues”.

“The report received on Wednesday was requested by call centre staff to follow up on the initial round of testing and ensure the site was safe to work in.”

The department was not aware of any specific health concerns raised by staff.

“We said to staff that we would encourage anyone who felt unwell or concerned to visit their GP for a health check, or if they didn’t have a GP or for further advice they could talk to their operations manager to help refer them to a suitable medical practitioner,” Ms O’Shaughnessy said.

According to the department, all employees who would usually be working at Moe were still being paid, and many were currently working from its Traralgon office.

Community and Public Sector Union spokesman Julian Kennelly said staff and the union had been consulted on the situation and it was awaiting the results of the follow-up tests.