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Asbestos Exposure

Published 07 Apr 2018

Asbestos exposure is cited as the number one workplace killer in New Zealand.

The Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 are now in effect since April 4th 2018. The new regulations clearly put a duty on businesses to have asbestos management plans in place for their buildings and workplaces where asbestos is likely to be found.

If you are in the construction business or you work on client sites this means you should give your staff at least basic training in asbestos identification

Any friable asbestos and non-friable asbestos greater than 10m2 can now only be removed by a licenced person. This was illustrated recently when a Timaru farmer was fined $10,000 for demolishing an old chicken shed in November 2017.

In addition, businesses must develop an asbestos management plan where asbestos has been identified, or is likely to be. These plans are a written record of where asbestos is, or may be (if you presume it to be present) in a work site, what the plan of management is, and what you will do in the event of an emergency.

If you're in the construction industry WorkSafe recommend that "it is important that in any place of work where asbestos has been identified, is likely to be, or where the business ought to know it is present, there should be an asbestos management plan in place".

So if your business takes your workers to a site where you suspect there could be asbestos you need to be asking the owner if they have a management plan in place. An asbestos management plan should record where any identified asbestos or asbestos containing material is and how it is being managed.

Your Asbestos Management Plan needs to include the following:

  • where exactly your identified asbestos is located
  • how you plan to manage the asbestos risks (eg remove it, encapsulate it with a false wall or paint, leave it alone as it is in good condition, etc)
  • what procedures you will follow for when work is to be undertaken that may disturb the asbestos or asbestos containing material
  • how you will record incidents or emergencies involving asbestos
  • a timetable for managing asbestos exposure  risks (eg priorities and dates for removal, reviews, circumstances and activities that could affect the timing of action) – which should be reviewed in six months, or after an incident or emergency
  • procedures, including a timetable for reviewing and  (if necessary) revising the asbestos management plan and asbestos documentation (note at a minimum this MUST be every five years)
All members who subscribe to Health & Safety have access to an online Asbestos Management Plan through the Employers Toolbox