New Asbestos Regulations bring new obligations

Asbestos is regarded as New Zealand’s number one workplace killer. To help reduce worker exposure to this carcinogen, the government introduced the new Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations in 2016.​ These regulations outline new rules and obligations for PCBUs (Persons Controlling a Business or Undertaking) concerning the identification and management of Asbestos. As of April 4, these regulations have begun to be enforced, and businesses must now take greater responsibility for managing asbestos in their place of work.

Since this two year window has now closed, businesses can now be prosecuted for not meeting their obligations under these new rules. The Regulations strengthen the requirements for PCBUs, who now must have an Asbestos Management Plan in place if their building was constructed prior to 2000.

Asbestos Management

Buildings that were built prior to January 1 2000 are more likely to contain asbestos, and even if you are the tenant, you still have the duty to identify if your building contains asbestos. If asbestos has been identified or is likely to be present in your building, the PCBU must have an asbestos management plan prepared. This plan must be made available to anyone who might request it, like construction or maintenance contractors, and must be kept up to date.

For an occupied building, a Management Survey should be undertaken, or the building must be assumed to contain asbestos. In addition to the management plan, there is also an implicit duty to review the management plan at regular intervals and update accordingly.

Asbestos Awareness

If you or your team work in the construction industry, or are likely to interact with asbestos whilst carrying out your work, then you will need to be aware of when and where you could be exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos Awareness training is mandatory under the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016. PCBUs have a duty to inform, instruct & train employees who may through their regular work come into contact with asbestos containing materials.  This includes maintenance staff, cleaners and sub-contractors who work at your premises.

Work with asbestos not only includes employees of the asbestos identification and removal industry, but also anyone whose normal occupation may bring them into contact with asbestos, such as plumbers, builders, electricians, and geotechnical engineers. Managers and PCBUs themselves must also be trained in Asbestos Awareness.

Meeting your obligations under the Asbestos Regulations

GB’s TriEx is one of New Zealand’s leading asbestos consultancies. TriEx Asbestos Technical Manager Chris Mills spoke of this expertise.

“We provide specialist advisory, management and compliance services nationwide. We have significant and recent experience working in Council environments and on large scale projects and have proven experience across a wide range of facilities and assets.”

TriEx offers a full spectrum asbestos consultancy that specialises in the surveying, identification and management of asbestos containing materials in premises. With teams based in both Christchurch and Auckland, we have capacity to service the entire country.

We also run classroom based Asbestos Awareness training courses, which will raise the awareness of individuals to the potential dangers of asbestos exposure. Our aim is to improve the participants understanding of asbestos, and how to work safely with regards to identifying asbestos hazards in the workplace, and how to avoid the risks.

Asbestos Awareness training is delivered by qualified experts who hold internationally recognised asbestos qualifications and have extensive field experience.

For more information on how we can help, or to chat to one of our experts, click here.