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Now operating in Wellington

“EIAG is proud to announce that we have commenced operations in Wellington, New Zealand. The capital and surrounding areas are home to large amounts of historical buildings from a wide range of architectural movements across it’s more than 150 year history.  The iconic buildings within Wellington are predominantly from the Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, Interwar, Post-war and Modern eras. These styles are what help make Wellington stand out as a unique city. However, during Wellington’s past periods of expansion, asbestos was widely used in many products and applications for fire protection, insulation, and other uses.

As the predominant workplace hazard in Zealand with around 170 people dying to Asbestos exposure per year, the minimisation of preventable asbestos related diseases and death has been at the forefront for Worksafe to address in the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 and the ACOP: MANAGEMENT AND REMOVAL OF ASBESTOS.

Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 state that:
“(1) A PCBU with management or control of a workplace must ensure that—

  1. exposure of a person at the workplace to airborne asbestos is eliminated so far as is reasonably practicable; and
  2. if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate exposure to airborne asbestos, exposure is minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.”

The most important steps in minimising risk of asbestos exposure is locating the area of contamination, identifying positive samples through laboratory analysis and managing through asbestos removal, encapsulation or isolation. This is achieved through an asbestos management survey or asbestos demolition / refurbishment survey.

EIAG and staff have been heavily involved in supporting the Christchurch rebuild since 2013 and have vast knowledge and experience regarding asbestos and other hazardous materials and the steps required to minimise risk of exposure to workers and/or occupants.

If you require any further information, please contact us at EIAG. We look forward to working with you in helping make New Zealand’s homes and work places safe and healthy environments.”


NZ bans imports of nearly all products containing asbestos

Imports of products containing asbestos will no longer be allowed, the environment minister says.

The importation of raw asbestos is already banned.

Minister Nick Smith said exposure to asbestos posed a risk of respiratory disease and was the single biggest cause of work-related fatalities, responsible for the deaths of 170 people a year.

An inventory released by the Ministry for the Environment in 2014 shows asbestos is no longer imported for use in buildings or where members of the public are likely to be exposed to it. But it is still imported for a limited number of specialist products, such as gaskets, seals and brake linings.

READ MORE: Probe fails to establish source of asbestos on family’s $800k Christchurch property

“The Government recognises there are a few specialised uses for which there is no practical alternative. For that reason, there is scope to be granted a permit to import – but only in very select circumstances,” Smith said.

“A permit will only be issued if there is genuinely no alternative product available, or if the alternative would be disproportionately expensive. In addition, an importer would have to be able to show that any risk of asbestos exposure can be safely managed.

“I expect the only people or organisations likely to need to import these kinds of products will be very limited and associated with older machinery, and a small number of vintage plane or ship restorers. The Environmental Protection Authority will consider applications for permits case-by-case.”

Mike Bradshaw, of the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway Trust, said there were relatively few pieces of equipment left that contained asbestos. He said it was used on all railway machinery built until the 1920s but was phased out after that.

His organisation had replaced all existing asbestos in its machinery in the 1980s.

Graeme Swan, MTA’s repair sector specialist, said the ban was unlikely to be a problem for the New Zealand automotive sector, either. He said most major manufacturers had stopped using asbestos.

“MTA would support the government in this decision, for the health benefits it would provide.”

The ban will not affect asbestos in existing buildings or products. The existing stock of products containing asbestos is managed through other legislation – primarily the Health and Safety at Work Act regulations – and such products are phased out and safely disposed of as they reach the end of their useful life.

“The decision to ban asbestos-containing products was made this month, and the necessary Orders in Council are currently being drafted. The prohibition will take effect on October 1,” Smith said.

“This ban is part of the Government’s programme of reducing exposure to harmful products. It will bring New Zealand into line with overseas jurisdictions such as Australia, and will save lives.”


Worksafe targets poor asbestos record

WorkSafe is aiming to halve the number of deaths from asbestos, which were 146 last year and average 170 annually, within a decade.

But it will be doing it without any extra money for now from the government, in the face of a building boom and with doubts around Customs’ ability to stop asbestos at the border.

WorkSafe chairperson Gregor Coster said the government’s decision to ban products containing asbestos would be crucial to meeting the target in the agency’s new 10-year workplace health plan.

“We’ve been able to get the support of government to ban the importation of asbestos – that’s been a huge step forwards, that’s never been done in New Zealand before,” said Professor Coster.

The ban on any product containing asbestos would kick in from October, 13 years after Australia. In exceptional circumstances here, an importation permit might be issued.

Three years ago the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety said there was “paralysis” and a gaping data hole around how much illness and death was caused on the job.

Cancer expert Sir David Skegg has previously said this country is “unusually slack” about its controls on asbestos, and plenty of scepticism remains among unions who say fly-by-night builders would still put workers clearing out old asbestos at risk.

The data is still lacking and WorkSafe appears quite slow at filling it in.

Also, while asbestos accounted for the largest single chunk of the estimated 600-900 workplace-related deaths a year, vagueness surrounded the other two thirds.

Lawyer Hazel Armstrong, who has worked for the rail workers’ union, said she foresaw ongoing risk from imported asbestos and WorkSafe would be falling short unless the government stepped up.

“They’ve got to have border controls and they’ve got to equip Customs to check the products that are coming into New Zealand – including things like locomotives, but especially building products,” she said.

Research supported the idea it would be a grind – in a recent survey just 7 percent of construction companies, who are entering a sustained boom time, and fewer than a quarter of manufacturers said they had offered employees any health monitoring in the last 12 months.

Read the full article here.



Meth use proves costly for social housing providers in Canterbury

Social housing providers are forking out tens of thousands of dollars to decontaminate properties that have tested positive for methamphetamine residue.

Sixty-five Housing New Zealand (HNZ) properties in the Christchurch, Nelson and Marlborough regions have tested positive for P, and the number of affected houses across the country is increasing.

On average, it costs HNZ more than $14,000 to test and decontaminate each unit.


Residue Testing NZ franchise owner Nicola Clark carries out a preliminary test to determine whether a house has been used for smoking or the manufacture of meth.

Read more


$2.2b to replace NZ’s asbestos pipes

A $2.2 billion price tag has been put on the cost of replacing the country’s asbestos water supply pipelines.
A file photo of a sign warning about asbestos removal


Asbestos cement pipes were installed for local water supply networks from the 1950s to the 1970s, and manufacturers stopped producing them in the mid 1980s. The pipes’ life expectancy is about 50 years so many will be due for replacement. Functioning pipes being used for water do not pose a threat to health.

The World Health Organisation has said swallowing asbestos present in water does not present the same cancer risk as inhaling dry particles.

However, asbestos pipes that are cut or broken when dry can pose a health risk if particles are released into the air. The Water Services Association of Australia has estimated it could cost $AU8b ($NZ9b) to safely remove Australia’s roughly 40,000km of worn-out asbestos piping.

Water New Zealand estimated the total length of this country’s water supply pipelines at 36,436km, with the network valued at $8.7b. It estimated 9000km of those pipes were made of asbestos cement and that they would need to be replaced in the next 20 to 30 years.

With many of the pipes nearing the end of their useful life, Water New Zealand chief executive John Pfahlert said local councils would have to do careful planning to make the replacement affordable to ratepayers.

View the full article


New asbestos regulations hit building owners

New measures to prevent asbestos contamination during renovations and demolitions could prove costly for building owners, but industry leaders say change is well over due.

From 4 April new asbestos regulations come into force under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Health and safety consultants report a big jump in demand for asbestos surveys of commercial buildings, but they’re also struggling to find suitably qualified staff to do the work.

The original draft regulations included a requirement that all buildings built before 2000 had a register showing where asbestos was located, but Cabinet is awaiting the results of further consultation before it decides whether to make registers compulsory.

Asbestos consultant Mike Cosman​ was a member of a WorkSafe stakeholder advisory group consulted over the new regulations.

They include a two-tier licensing system for the removal of more than 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos, or any amount of the more dangerous friable asbestos (powdery or easily crumbled).

Class A licences will eventually replace existing Certificates of Competence needed to remove the more hazardous material. To date Worksafe has received 457 registrations of interest for Class B licences to remove non-friable material.

Cosman​ said the changes were long overdue because New Zealand had been 20 years behind international best practice when it came to handling asbestos.

“We probably don’t know how bad it’s been because the level of overall surveillance of asbestos removal work has been very very low.”

Cosman ​ said the onus was now on owners to find out if their buildings contained asbestos, and on contractors to ensure their processes were up to scratch.

Intrusive testing might be necessary before refurbishment or demolition could start.

“You might have to make holes in the cladding in order to see what lies behind. It can be very expensive, but not as expensive as not doing the survey, and discovering you have spread asbestos all over your construction site, and have to stop work and clean it up.”

Quenton ​ Dowdell​, managing director of Dowdell​ and Associates occupational health and safety consultants,  said compulsory asbestos registers would put New Zealand on a par with the United States, Britain and Australia.

“The Government owns more properties than anyone so maybe it was a cost exercise, and they realised it was going to impact them more than anyone else.”

Dowdell​ said asbestos survey costs ranged from under $1000 to tens of thousands for multi-story buildings.

He has recruited five British surveyors to meet demand, which had more than doubled in the past year.

Asbestos removal and management company ATL has also been recruiting in Europe and chief executive, Brett Pietersen​, said it was extremely difficult finding sufficient competent staff.

“In our business alone we could hire another three or four surveyors tomorrow and have them busy by the end of the week.”

Read the full article


New Regulations out now

Regulations to help you understand what you need to do to meet your duties under the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) are out now. These regulations will come into force on 4 April 2016, along with the HSWA.

These include regulations applicable to all businesses as well as others focused on a particular activity, risk, hazard, or on the operation of an industry. The regulations cover the following;

General Risk and Workplace Management These regulations apply to all workplaces in New Zealand.  They prescribe what must be done in specific circumstances to meet the duties under the new law.

Worker Engagement, Participation and Representation These will help businesses meet their duties of worker participation under HSWA.  All workplaces need to have effective worker engagement, participation and representations practices under HSWA.

Asbestos These regulations aim to help tackle the serious health risks posed by poorly managed asbestos.  The asbestos regulations outline requirements for the safe management and work with asbestos and asbestos-containing materials, including demolition and removal.

Adventure Activities These regulations aim to improve safety, reduce harm and ensure consistent good practice across the adventure activity sector.  From 4 April these regulations will revoke and replace the Health and Safety in Employment (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2011.

Major Hazard Facilities These regulations place safety management obligations on operators or particular facilities.  Facilities subject to these regulations are those with the potential to cause a catastrophic event, and focus on matters for process safety.

Mining Operations and Quarrying Operations  These regulations detail the requirements that must be followed including competency requirements in relation to safety-critical roles in mining operations, quarrying operations, and alluvial mining operations.

Petroleum Exploration and Extraction These regulations provide a framework that aim to ensure the safety of petroleum operations such as the extraction, transportation, treatment or processing of petroleum or gas; any well drilling installation; the construction, maintenance, and operation of any structures, or land improvements connected with petroleum operations.

Rates of Levy Funding Regulations prescribing the levy required to be paid by employers and self-employed people under section 201 or the HSWA.


High Cost and Illegal Dumping

Increased Asbestos Waste Leads to High Cost and Illegal Dumping

Every few months, Andrew Morrison gets a call about a pile of asbestos that’s been illegally dumped. Morrison, the owner of Andrew’s Asbestos Solutions in Victoria, Australia, says the cost of proper asbestos disposal sometimes makes people feel forced to find their own solution. But when it comes to asbestos, cutting corners can lead to harmful exposures and serious health risks, including mesothelioma and other cancers.

“They’ll ring up wanting to do the right thing, but they can’t believe how much it costs,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald report. Much of Morrison’s business includes removing asbestos from old outbuildings present on most farms throughout the state and disposing of it safely.

He says many farmers don’t call him, but they decide instead to bring the building down themselves and haul the asbestos waste somewhere out in the bush.

Read the full article

New Health and Safety Association Launched

A new umbrella association for workplace health and safety professions in New Zealand has been established. The Health and Safety Association of New Zealand (HASANZ) was launched on 10 September 2014 in Auckland by George Adams, Chair of the Independent Forestry Safety Review and of the Occupational Health Advisory Group set up by WorkSafe NZ.

HASANZ aims to raise professional standards across the occupational health and safety sector to provide healthier and safer workplaces for New Zealanders.

It has been created in response to the findings of the Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety following the Pike River mining disaster. The Government’s resulting Working Safer package of reforms (2013) included a commitment to set up a representative body for health and safety professionals to help prevent serious harm and fatalities at work.

“Business wants clarity on how to deliver against the new accountabilities for workplace health and safety and on occasions where they need external advice, that will entail the ability to identify, select and to trust a professional or a professional organisation,” said George Adams. “Having a well placed and well known and effective body such as HASANZ, which is set up to do just that, will be vital going forward.”

“As an association of associations, HASANZ is a first point of contact for government on workplace health and safety matters and the “go to place” for businesses seeking support and advice,” said HASANZ and NZ Occupational Hygiene Society representative Suzanne Broadbent at the launch.

Founding member organisations include: the Australian/New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of New Zealand, Maintenance Engineers Society of New Zealand, NZ Institute of Hazardous Substances Management, New Zealand Institute of Safety Management, NZ Occupational Health Nurses Association, NZ Occupational Hygiene Society, New Zealand Safety Council, New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists (Occupational Group) and Occupational Therapy New Zealand.

“A step change in workplace health and safety in New Zealand requires us to work more collaboratively and to give as much emphasis to health as to safety,” said HASANZ representative and New Zealand Institute of Safety Management National Manager Tony Rigg. “HASANZ is committed to promoting excellence in workplace health and safety practice.”

A priority is improving access to quality advice for businesses by creating an online register of competent health and safety professionals.

“It’s important that people have confidence in the health and safety advice they receive,” said Tony Rigg. “It’s also important they know where to go for reliable information. Working together with industry and government, HASANZ will enable workplace health and safety professions to provide better guidance and support to employers and workers for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”

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Future of Christchurch rebuild revealed

The future of the Christchurch rebuild has been revealed, with a new agency – called Regenerate Christchurch – overseeing the next phase of the reconstruction.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel have unveiled details of the new plan in Christchurch this morning, which is designed to replace the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act before it expires in April next year.

Regenerate Christchurch will be a joint entity tasked with overseeing the long term development and enhancement of the central city, residential red zone, New Brighton and other potential regeneration zones. It will be the first of its kind in New Zealand.

Mr Brownlee described it as a unique partnership that offered a new way of thinking about how central and local government could operate in the future.

“Christchurch will be leading the way and the rest of New Zealand will look to this partnership as a new way of working.”

Regenerate Christchurch will be jointly owned and funded by the Crown and the Christchurch City Council and will have an independent board, which will report to both the Crown and Council.


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