The 4th April is one of those unremarkable dates, perhaps famous only for the 168th birthday of the city of Los Angeles, the birthday of a few notable international world leaders and the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King.
Quite why Worksafe and the associated legislators selected the 4th April 2018 for the introduction of the new Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations (2016) will probably never be known, but the 4th April it is
On this date the new health and safety regulations come into play. Any Person Controlling a Business or Undertaking (‘PCBU’) that operates in a workplace constructed before 1st January 2000 must have an asbestos survey carried out to identify the presence (or absence) of asbestos. If any asbestos is found, then the PCBU must have an asbestos management plan and asbestos register in place, and then take the appropriate steps.
Asbestos is a nasty little beast. It can lead to a number of debilitating lung diseases, such as asbestosis or mesothelioma or even lung cancer. Collectively asbestos is thought to be one of the biggest work-related killers in New Zealand today. The problem is that the symptoms can develop many years after the original exposure, making the correlation with the initial cause difficult.
Finding and identify asbestos isn’t as easy as it might sound. While ‘friable’ asbestos is probably a little easier to identify, some of the non-friable or ‘asbestos contain materials’ are a little harder to pick. It’s best to get an expert in to check out your work premises, and the new regulations ordain that any inspection be conducted by a suitably qualified person. If asbestos is found then the hard work really begins. The new regulations require that PCBU’s implement a asbestos management plan and register, and require that any further inspection and removal be tightly managed.
At this point it really is time to call in the experts. We’ve had some great help and advice from our Health and Safety consultants OSHbox (http://oshbox.co.nz/) who also work closely with an asbestos specialist Prendos NZ Ltd. As well as there being a legal requirement to comply (and some very hefty fines for non-compliance) we think companies have a moral requirement. No one wants to inhale asbestos dust. The long term consequences aren’t nice.