Asbestos Regulations now in full effect

Time’s up! Businesses must now take greater responsibility for managing asbestos in their place of work.

On 4 April, the two-year window for industry, the regulator and training partners to implement changes created by the Health and Safety (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 expired.

This means that the requirements in the Asbestos Regulations around managing the risks of asbestos are in full force. This includes the requirement for asbestos management plans and greater competency requirements on the asbestos removal industry.

While we generally understand that asbestos poses a serious health risk, the Regulations are about raising the bar for the removal industry and bringing New Zealand’s approach to managing asbestos in the workplace and any associated removal in line with Australia and the UK.

How did the new Regulations come about?

Asbestos, because of its incredible range of properties, was added into numerous building products from the 50s to the 80s. However, it was later discovered to be a carcinogen when the fibres get lodged in human lungs.

To help reduce worker exposure to this carcinogen, the government introduced the new Health and Safety (Asbestos) Regulations in 2016. These Regulations strengthened the requirements on the asbestos removal industry through training and by implementing a system of checks and balances, such as practice checks by inspectors and a requirement that class A removalists have a certified safety management system.

What’s changed?

Certificate of Competence holders

Recognised Certificate of Competence holders as equivalent to licensed removalists until 4 April.

Asbestos licensing overview

Certified safety management systems

Requiring businesses seeking a class A licence to have a certified safety management system in place by 4 April.

Certification of safety management systems

Air monitoring

Air monitoring and clearance of class A removal sites must be undertaken by an independent licensed assessor from 4 April. Clearance of class B sites and air monitoring, where required, can be done by a licensed assessor or a competent person.

Key duties for surveyors and assessors

Training

Requiring workers and supervisors to be trained with either the relevant unit standards or their equivalent CPCC course (Australian courses which are recognised under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act).

Training

Asbestos management plans

Requiring businesses where asbestos has been identified, or is likely to be, or where the PCBU ought to know that it is present, to develop an asbestos management plan.

Asbestos management plans