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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

New asbestos responsibilities

New asbestos responsibilities
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New Zealand

The government's soon-to-be-introduced licensing regime for asbestos removal is a big step forward, the NZ Demolition and Asbestos Association says, but it is disappointed that workers seeking accreditation under the new scheme will be unable to do so until at least the end of the year.

Under present regulations workers dealing with the removal of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are issued a certificate of competency (CoC) when they have two years industry experience and successfully complete a practical assessment. Their employers are not required to have any special expertise however, so the onus for carrying out asbestos removal work in a safe manner rests with individual CoC holders.

The new regulations will scrap CoCs and instead companies involved in asbestos removal - whether as demolition contractors, specialist removal services, or in the course of renovation and maintenance work on existing buildings - will have to be licensed.

An unlicensed company will still be able to remove up to 10sqm of non-friable asbestos on any one project, but must have suitable controls in place, and use safe work methods and appropriate PPE. For larger or more hazardous jobs either a Class B licence, for more than 10sqm of non-friable ACMs, or Class A for work involving any quantity of friable (ie powdered, or able to be to crumbled in the hand) asbestos will be required.

Under the terms of these licences companies must appoint at least one supervisor, who is competent, has a minimum of a year (for Class B) or three years (for Class A) industry experience, and has undergone compulsory training. A supervisor must oversee any asbestos removal work carried out by the company.

Asbestos removal consultant and NZDAA secretary Terry Coleman says while members of his organisation are generally very pleased with the stronger standards that are being introduced, there is some disappointment that the supervisors' training course has not yet been completed and is - according to WorkSafe - unlikely to be available until late 2016 or early 2017.

"We [the NZDAA] could have had training in place by now for the demolition industry. We broached the subject with the government about a year ago, but it decided it was going to write the course content. We're not a big industry body, but I think we're an important one, so we'd have liked a bit more consultation. And we want to get the training underway now, so it's a bit disappointing."

The unavailability of the training isn't expected to cause any immediate issues, however, as current CoC holders can continue to work in the interim. The regulations set a deadline of April 2018 for all supervisors to be complete the training, and Coleman believes this is a realistic timeframe for the 300-odd CoC holders across the country.

He says NZDAA members are pleased that the new system will introduce more stringent standards for the businesses involved in removal work.

"As an employer you'll have to prove that you've got a training regime in place and that training has occurred, that your workers understand the hazards, have the correct PPE and have been trained to fit and wear it correctly. On top of that, any principal planning demolition or renovation work on structures built before 1990 will first have to employ someone like me to do a pre-tender survey to identify all the asbestos on site and prepare a control plan for removal.

"This won't just mean looking at the outside and saying you've got asbestos on your roof, but actually getting up in the roof to take swab samples for dust, taking panelling off to check for asbestos fire-proofing, and checking floor coverings to see if there is any old vinyl that contains asbestos beneath the present covering."

Such surveys will come at cost, he acknowledges, but dealing with asbestos at the start of a project will prevent the unscheduled stops that presently occur if ACMs are discovered once work is underway. "The asbestos regulations did need an overhaul, and these changes will help lift the industry to a better level."


People Mentioned:
Terry Coleman
Organisations Mentioned:
NZ Demolition and Asbestos Association
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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