not just a risk for the worker

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - NEWS -

Al­most 50 years af­ter New Zealand busi­nesses work­ing in and around con­struc­tion were first made aware of the risks of as­bestos, re­moval of the can­cer- caus­ing ma­te­rial is still not be­ing man­aged ef­fec­tively, says WorkSafe New Zealand.

“As­bestos is New Zealand’s num­ber one- killer in the work­place, with around 170 peo­ple dy­ing ev­ery year from as­bestos- re­lated dis­eases,” says WorkSafe Deputy Gen­eral Man­ager, In­ves­ti­ga­tions and Spe­cial­ist Ser­vices, Si­mon Humphries.

WorkSafe says those work­ing in con­struc­tion need to be more dili­gent when it comes to man­ag­ing as­bestos re­moval be­cause it is not just “your­self” at risk.

“As­bestos fi­bres can travel thou­sands of kilo­me­tres from a site where re­moval work is un­der­taken un­der cer­tain weather con­di­tions. Neg­li­gence is un­ac­cept­able and there is no ex­cuse for putting the lives of oth­ers in and around your work­place at risk.”

WorkSafe’s com­ments fol­low the sen­tenc­ing of John Carstairs Robert­son in New Ply­mouth District Court to­day on health and safety charges re­lat­ing to un­safe re­moval of as­bestos.

In Fe­bru­ary 2017, Robert­son be­gan work on a New Ply­mouth prop­erty to re­move as­bestos con­tain­ing ma­te­rial from a shed. His con­duct de­parted sig­nif­i­cantly from cur­rent as­bestos reg­u­la­tions and in­cluded the use of hand tools to break up as­bestos con­tain­ing ma­te­rial, no use of masks or proper pro­tec­tive cloth­ing, and no man­age­ment of air­borne as­bestos par­ti­cles.

WorkSafe’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that Robert­son had failed to man­age the risk of as­bestos ap­pro­pri­ately, de­spite train­ing and a prior im­prove­ment no­tice. WorkSafe was not no­ti­fied of the class B re­moval work.

“No as­bestos re­moval plan was prepared and Rober­ston’s hap­haz­ard re­moval work not only put him­self and a worker at risk, but the oc­cu­pier and visi­tors to the prop­erty, and those in the neigh­bour­ing area,” Humphries said.


• A fine of $ 35,000 was im­posed.

• Repa­ra­tion of $2580.59 was or­dered for site re­me­di­a­tion.

• Costs of $1297.50 were or­dered.

• John Carstairs Robert­son faced three charges:

1. Reg­u­la­tions 34(1) and 34(5) of the Health and Safety at Work (as­bestos) Reg­u­la­tions 2016

• Be­ing a li­censed as­bestos re­moval­ist failed to give writ­ten no­tice to WorkSafe at least five days be­fore the re­moval­ist com­mences li­censed as­bestos re­moval work.

• Max­i­mum penalty of a fine not ex­ceed­ing

$ 6000.

2. Sec­tion 36(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

• Be­ing a PCBU, failed to en­sure, so far as was rea­son­ably prac­ti­ca­ble, that the health and safety of other per­sons, was not put at risk from work car­ried out as part of the con­duct of the busi­ness or un­der­tak­ing, namely the re­moval of as­bestos cladding.

• Max­i­mum penalty of a fine not ex­ceed­ing $ 300,000.

3. Sec­tion 36(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

• Be­ing a PCBU who is a self- em­ployed per­son, failed to en­sure, so far as was rea­son­ably prac­ti­ca­ble, the health and safety of work­ers who worked for the PCBU while at work in the busi­ness of re­moval of as­bestos cladding.

• Max­i­mum penalty of a fine not ex­ceed­ing $ 300,000.


Ap­proved codes of prac­tice (codes) set out WorkSafe New Zealand’s ( WorkSafe) ex­pec­ta­tions about how to com­ply with le­gal du­ties im­posed by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (the Act) and reg­u­la­tions made un­der the Act.

This code is de­signed to re­flect the re­quire­ments of the Act and the Reg­u­la­tions as they ap­ply to man­ag­ing the health and safety risks of as­bestos.

In par­tic­u­lar, it re­flects the re­quire­ments set out in the Health and Safety at Work ( As­bestos) Reg­u­la­tions 2016 (the As­bestos Reg­u­la­tions) and the Health and Safety at Work (Gen­eral Risk and Work­place Man­age­ment) Reg­u­la­tions 2016 (to­gether, the Reg­u­la­tions).

This code sets out WorkSafe’s ex­pec­ta­tions for car­ry­ing out work in­volv­ing as­bestos safely. It pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on the fol­low­ing top­ics, among oth­ers:

• Per­mit­ted types of work that in­volve as­bestos.

• Air­borne con­tam­i­na­tion stan­dard for as­bestos and trace level.

• Iden­ti­fy­ing and man­ag­ing as­bestos and as­bestos- con­tain­ing ma­te­rial ( ACM) in the work­place.

• Prohibited and re­stricted tools and equip­ment.

• Per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment and health mon­i­tor­ing.

• Train­ing.

• As­bestos- re­lated work.

• As­bestos re­moval work.

• Li­censed as­bestos as­ses­sors.

This code is struc­tured around the As­bestos Reg­u­la­tions. Most of the le­gal re­quire­ments ap­ply to PCBUs, as­bestos re­moval­ists and li­censed as­bestos as­ses­sors.

How­ever, other peo­ple with du­ties un­der the Act or the Reg­u­la­tions will ben­e­fit from read­ing this code.

This code is de­signed pri­mar­ily for:

• PCBUs.

• PCBUs who man­age or con­trol work­places (work­place PCBUs).

• PCBUs car­ry­ing out as­bestos re­moval.

• PCBUs car­ry­ing as­bestos- re­lated work.

• Li­censed as­bestos as­ses­sors.



Per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE) is any cloth­ing or equip­ment that pro­vides pro­tec­tion to the wearer from a po­ten­tial risk.

What PPE must be worn when as­bestos is or may be present?

If as­bestos is or may be present, PPE must in­clude:

• Res­pi­ra­tory pro­tec­tive equip­ment (RPE) – to avoid in­hal­ing as­bestos fi­bres (see our fact sheet on health risks from as­bestos).

• Over­alls which are im­per­vi­ous to as­bestos dust (ei­ther dis­pos­able or able to be washed*) – to avoid the risk of car­ry­ing as­bestos fi­bres away from the work­site on cloth­ing.

• Footwear – ap­pro­pri­ate for the work be­ing un­der­taken (footwear should be non- laced as laced footwear is dif­fi­cult to clean – al­ter­na­tively wear dis­pos­able boot cov­ers).

(* Wash­ing must only be done in laun­dries specif­i­cally set up for han­dling as­bestos- con­tam­i­nated cloth­ing. It must not be done at home or a pub­lic laun­dro­mat.)


Although con­trols must be in place to pre­vent or re­duce ex­po­sure to as­bestos fi­bres when work­ing with as­bestoscon­tain­ing ma­te­rial ( ACM), the as­bestos risks must be min­imised even more by us­ing ap­pro­pri­ate PPE.


WHEN SHOULD A RESPIRATOR BE WORN? A respirator or RPE should be worn at all times by work­ers in any en­vi­ron­ment where as­bestos is or sus­pected to be present to min­imise the risk of breath­ing in as­bestos.

FIND A LIST OF AS­BESTOS LI­CENCE HOLD­ERS HERE Some­times i t i s best to get some help, rather t han at­tempt t his pos­si­bly dan­ger­ous re­moval t ask i nter­nally.


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