The removal and safe disposal of asbestos requires a service with quite specific licences overseen and issued by the New Zealand Ministry of Health (through the Ministry’s “Worksafe New Zealand” department).
Listed below in this article, is a summary of licences which any building owner can ask to view, in order to prove that an asbestos assessment or removal is being undertaken by an appropriately qualified people. There is occasional criticism expressed that these regulations are too strict. However, upon the fact that around 170 New Zealand fatalities continue to be recorded annually, as a result of asbestos related diseases, the Government rests its case.
It is unknown how many tonnes of asbestos-laced products remain in New Zealand’s infrastructure such as buildings and underground pipes, but the volume is safely in the tens of millions of tonnes. It will take decades to eliminate asbestos from daily human existence and the need to remain vigilant in how asbestos is removed will always need detailed Government regulations.
WHAT A FULL ASBESTOS SERVICE CAN PROVIDE:
1. Site sampling and testing to ascertain where it exists and how safe, or otherwise, it might be at the time.
2. Developing a long term asbestos management plan to ensure everyone on the site is kept permanently safe from exposure.
3. Removal carried out by experts who know how to remove asbestos safely.
WHAT TO ASK FOR:
The Government introduced the new Health and Safety (Asbestos) Regulations in 2016. These Regulations strengthened the requirements of the asbestos removal companies:
Thorough training in all asbestos related services making sure all health regulations are fulfilled
By implementing a system of checks and balances, such as practice checks by inspectors
A requirement that class A removal experts have certified safety management systems
A “Class A” removal service can:
Deal with any type or quantity of asbestos- containing material regardless of its condition
A “Class B” licenced service can:
Deal with any “non friable” asbestos material; that is, the asbestos is not crumbly, flakey, or likely to become airborne. It is contained within other materials such as wall boards or roof tiles.
No licence is required provided:
The asbestos materials to be removed are within a ten square metre area.
The asbestos within the material is “non friable”- unlikely to become airborne.
The ten square metres includes the cumulative whole course of the removal; this means, for example, that a 100 square metre area of asbestos material cannot be removed at a rate of ten square metres a day over ten days. This becomes a service requiring a class B licence.
WHAT IS AN “ASSESSOR” LICENCE?
An asbestos tester is licensed to monitor air quality during the removal of asbestos.
The assessor will ensure that once the removal of asbestos materials is finished, that the atmosphere is clear of any asbestos fibres. It is also important that this clearance is permanent throughout the removal process
Specifically, an assessor’s licence is required to manage all monitoring all Class A (“friable”) asbestos removal sites.
Class B sites can have a clearance certificate granted by an “independent competent person.” Such a person can be a project manager or a person from the removal service.