Coming across asbestos? Play by the new rules

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Are you running a business (for example, building, roofing, plumbing or demolition) with workers who may disturb or remove asbestos or asbestos-containing material (ACM) Here’s a heads-up about changes to asbestos-related work coming into effect in April.

Asbestos regulations are being updated to bring New Zealand into line with other countries. With more than 170 New Zealand workers dying each year from asbestos-related diseases, our work practices need to improve.

Under the new regulations, coming in on April 4, 2016, a licence is required to remove more than 10sq m of non-friable (bonded) asbestos or ACM in one job, or any amount of friable asbestos.

The licence will be issued by government health and safety agency WorkSafe New Zealand.

You can register now with WorkSafe New Zealand to get up-to-date information on the new licensing process, including when and how you can apply. Please note that registration is not a licence application.

 

Licence or no licence?

Some common examples of building, plumbing or electrical work, with a guide to whether you’ll need an asbestos removal licence are:

Work which may involve the removal of non-friable asbestos:

Soffit removal

Removing cement roofing sheets

Removing external wall cladding or textured ceilings

Replacing lino flooring.

The above work will require a Class B licence from April 4, 2016 if you’re removing more than 10sq m of non-friable asbestos containing material.

 

Maintenance and servicing work which may involve ACM:

Repairing or replacing sheets of cement roofing that are damaged or deteriorated

Replacing damaged or deteriorated cement water pipes

Drilling or cutting into soffits or wall linings.

Building maintenance or servicing is allowed without a licence under the new regulations. However, if it involves removing more than 10sq m of non-friable asbestos or any amount of friable asbestos then a licence is required.

 

Removal of friable asbestos:

Removal of insulation materials, including lagging

Any removal task where the asbestos is in a powder form when dry, or able to be crumbled or reduced to a powder using your hands.

The above work will require a Class A licence, because the asbestos fibres are friable. This means you could be exposed to larger quantities of airborne fibres.

 

Note: All removal work needs to be performed safely. Suitable controls need to be in place to ensure the risks of asbestos have been minimised.

These include correct use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), safe methods of work, decontamination facilities and the disposal of all asbestos waste in an approved landfill.

What do I need to do?

If your business is likely to require an asbestos removal licence it’s a good idea to register your interest with WorkSafe.

You can register online, and find more information on changes to work involving asbestos, at http://business.govt.nz/worksafe/asbestos.

 

I have a Certificate of Competence for restricted asbestos work. What do I need to do?

If you have a current Certificate of Competence, you don’t need to do anything yet.

Your certificate will allow you to work under the new asbestos regulations (under the categories listed on your certificate), until your certificate expires.

At that point you will need to apply for one of the new licences or to work on another business’ licence.