Asbestos

Asbestos was used in construction materials from the 1920s to the mid-1980s. You may come into contact with it if you are removing or replacing certain types of roof tiles, wall claddings, vinyl floor coverings, sprayed fire protection, decorative ceilings and roofing membranes.

Exposure to asbestos fibres, such as breathing them into your lungs, can cause serious and even fatal diseases, but symptoms may not appear until 15–20 years after exposure. Exposure to asbestos is the single-biggest cause of work-related death in New Zealand. An estimated 170 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases, and this number is expected to rise.

 If you suspect asbestos may be present, these laboratories can test the material:

For cladding or flooring take a sample the size of a $2 coin, and for decorative ceiling finishes at least one teaspoonful, including any sparkly material. See the Approved Code of Practice: Management and Removal of Asbestos on the WorkSafe website.

New licensing system for asbestos removal

A national licensing system for asbestos removal was introduced on 4 April 2016. The licences available under the new asbestos regulations are:

 
Type of licence What asbestos can be removed?
Class A Any type or quantity of asbestos or asbestos containing material, including:
 
  • any amount of friable asbestos or asbestos containing material (ACM)
 
  • any amount of asbestos contaminated dust or debris (ACD)
 
  • any amount of non-friable asbestos or ACM
Class B Any amount of non-friable asbestos or ACM
  ACD associated with removing any amount of non-friable asbestos or ACM.

 

No licence is required for removing: 

  • up to 10 m2 of non-friable asbestos or asbestos-containing material over the whole course of the removal project for the site
  • asbestos-contaminated dust that is associated with this volume of asbestos or asbestos-containing material, and/or any associated minor volume of asbestos-contaminated dust or debris.

A new role of asbestos assessor has been developed. A licensed asbestos assessor will provide air quality monitoring during removal work, inspect the finished job and provide a clearance certificate. A licensed asbestos assessor will be required to assess Class A asbestos removal work from 2018 onwards. 

Current Certificate of Competence holders will be able to continue removing asbestos (in the categories specified on their certificate), and supervise asbestos removal, until their certificate expires.