Asbestos trade breakfast attracts hundreds of rebuild workers

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More than 350 people working on the Canterbury rebuild downed tools for two hours recently to learn more about working with asbestos and understanding the risks and controls that need to be in place.

The Canterbury Rebuild Health and Safety Programme team, part of the Ministry of Business of Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Health and Safety Group, held the trade breakfast at Addington Raceway.

“Managing the health risks of asbestos is a major issue in the rebuild, and it’s absolutely crucial that any employer or principal working on the rebuild understands their responsibilities and requirements,” according to programme director Kathryn Heiler.

“As the residential rebuild gets underway in earnest, many construction companies are asking for more information and advice on asbestos removal,” Ms Heiler says.
“In particular, companies are interested in the process for applying for Certificates of Competence, a requirement for anyone who works with friable asbestos, or undertakes what’s known as restricted work with asbestos.

“Since 2011, the MBIE has held a number of smaller workshops and education sessions on asbestos and occupational health in the rebuild — but it has been fantastic to see such a strong turnout.

“Over the next few months, the programme team will be holding more of these types of events, helping to provide information and guidance on health and safety to rebuild workers and companies,” Ms Heiler says.

The trade breakfast covered topics including:
• hazard identification,
• asbestos sites,
• health issues,
• testing and sampling,
• responsibilities of employers and duty-holders,
• unrestricted and restricted work, and
• Certificates of Competency.