All business buildings and workplaces need to have an asbestos management plan that identifies any asbestos and has a written plan of action in case of incident. The regulation for this plan was enforced in April 2018. As a homeowner or property agent, you are not safe from these regulations either. Anyone who owns a home is considered a Person Conducting Business or Undertaking (PCBU), and is therefore responsible to enforce a management plan for asbestos.
You are a PCBU if you are responsible for a place anywhere work will be carried out. Think about your lawn mowing contractor, your plumber or any anyone conducting renovations in your home. When work is carried out on a property you own or manage, your home becomes a workplace. This applies to property agents too as it is equally your responsibility, as well as the owner to make sure asbestos is identified.
If your home was built prior to the 2000’s there may still be some form of asbestos in your home. Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) stopped being imported and produced by the 1990s, but stockpiles of the materials were used up until around the 2000s. Evidence of asbestos is still found in most homes today.
What is in an asbestos management plan?
The asbestos management plan is an identification of where and what asbestos is in the building, and a plan of how this will be managed in the future. This plan can be written electronically or in paper form, as long as it includes the below:
Where the asbestos is located
How it will be managed, eg removed, encapsulated, painted or left in good condition.
What the procedure is if work is required that that could expose the asbestos material. How you plan to log incidents or emergencies.
Timetable for managing the asbestos exposure. This could include dates for removal, any activities that could create a change in environment and a review timeline. At minimum your asbestos documentation needs to be revised and reviewed every five years.
This plan will be supplied to any worker coming on site to ensure they don’t expose asbestos fibres while carrying out any maintenance.
Identifying asbestos in the building for your management plan:
To be able to identify and survey the asbestos in your building, you must be considered a ‘competent person’. A competent person should have experience in identifying where asbestos is or may be through training, qualifications and experience. See other options below for how you can identify asbestos in your building:
Conduct your own survey if you are ‘competent’ and read the guide to asbestos surveying before assessing your own building.
You could choose to get your staff trained to recognise potential asbestos.
Alternatively, you can assume everything in the building is asbestos and write the plan accordingly (this is only a short-term solution).
If you are planning on surveying as a competent person, know that it is often better said to have no survey than a badly written one. A survey with misinformation can lead to a false sense of security for workers who come on site and increase the risk of an accident related to asbestos.
If you are planning on renovating or demolishing a property, note that a competent person cannot conduct the required R&D (Refurbishment and Demolition) report prior to this. To conduct an R&D survey you need someone who is certified and experienced, such certification would include the BOHS IP402 Asbestos Surveying in Buildings.
If you assume everything in the building is asbestos
If you choose to assume your entire building contains asbestos, your management plan will need a more stringent and thorough plan of action to follow.
Your plan could state that you will employ the services of a competent person or surveyor before starting any work, and the AMP (Asbestos Management Plan) will be redefined at that time.
If renovation or demolition is required for part of the property, a licensed asbestos remover will be required to remove the asbestos prior to works beginning. You may wish to engage the remover to update the AMP, as they are likely to already have the information needed for their own asbestos removal plan
You could also choose to update your plans when you or your staff get trained and become better equipped to identify asbestos.
Does a survey need to include samples to confirm the presence of asbestos?
No, your survey to identify asbestos doesn’t need samples. However it would be more thorough if it did, which is why we recommend getting a competent or certified professional to do your survey. They will most often be able to confirm this for you through sampling if necessary. Taking your own samples of potential asbestos material can be highly dangerous if you are not trained to minimise the risk of fibre exposure.
Professionals will often conduct a composite sample that surveys a whole area, not just one spot. This can be useful to confirm asbestos presence in ceilings where asbestos textured finishes are applied to several rooms or the entire property. This allows the best value and quick turn around times for results.
Writing and reviewing a management plan:
You don’t need a certified person to write a management plan, just an appointed person who can follow the recommendations and guidance of Worksafe. The role of the appointed person is to review the plan and also ensure anyone who comes on site to work is given the management plan prior to carrying out any work.
Renovating or plan to do some demolition?
The asbestos regulations require buildings to identify asbestos or ACM before any refurbishments or demolition is carried out if:
The site was built or installed before January 2000
Asbestos has been identified, or asbestos is suspected.
You need a certified surveyor to carry out inspection as this is much more intrusive than a regular asbestos survey. They will lift carpets, penetrate ceilings and walls to get access to all areas in a building. During this time the area must be vacated. The survey should list any action required and if it is safe to renovate selected areas.
If you aren’t sure what is considered to be a renovation or just small amounts of maintenance, check out Worksafe’s examples.
Remember that asbestos is NZ’s largest single cause of work related deaths and over 170 people die each year from related issues. It’s important to know what your responsibilities are as a PCBU regarding asbestos. As of April 2018 you must have an AMP (Asbestos Management Plan) so we strongly encourage you to start the process, or get in touch if you need a consultancy. For any PCBU or employees we recommend doing a simple online Asbestos awareness course, it is only $80 and is a good place to start to understand the dangers of asbestos in your workplace.