Asbestos Regulations Raise the Standard for Building Owners

16-Aug-2017

From April 2016 the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations created new workplace and residential obligations for building owners and those working with asbestos.

According to Work Safe New Zealand, asbestos is New Zealand’s number 1 killer in the workplace, accounting for 170 deaths each year from asbestos related diseases.  The aim of the Regulations is to mitigate that impact by imposing amongst other things:

    ·         A licensing system for the removal of asbestos.

    ·         New duties and responsibilities of building owners.

    ·         Requirements for processes in determining the presence of asbestos.

    ·         Specific duties in relation to asbestos removal.

    ·         New duties in relation to the management of asbestos risks

Of particular interest to commercial building owners in their capacity as a “PCBU” (person conducting a business or undertaking) will be the requirement to ensure that no work is carried out that is not by the method approved by Work Safe under the Regulations.  PCBU’s are also tasked with the duty to manage and control the workplace and ensure the risk of exposure to asbestos fibre is identified.  Within those management obligations are duties to analyse samples and ensure the presence and location of asbestos are indicated in preparation of a management plan.

Where any asbestos removal is undertaken a PCBU must ensure appropriate health monitoring is provided and that persons carrying out asbestos removal are trained in the safe handling of asbestos.

Any PCBU who commissions the removal of asbestos has to ensure that the removal work is carried out by a licensed asbestos "removalist".  The PCBU is required to ensure that there be an asbestos removal supervisor who is available, that the removal worker is trained, receives appropriate instructions and keeps a training record.

The Regulations also set out different classes of licence for different types of asbestos.  “Class A” licences are required for friable asbestos and Class B licences for non-friable asbestos.

Building owners will need to ensure they and their tenants are familiar with their duties and ensure they discharge them under the Act and Regulations.

For more information or for any questions in relation to the Regulations please contact us.