ASBESTOS REMOVAL NEW LICENCE REGIME
The new Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 comes into force from 4 April 2016 and WorkSafe NZ will start to apply requirements from that date. This new licensing requirement will replace the existing Certificate of Competence requirement that came from the old Health and Safety in Employment (Asbestos) Regulations 1998, which the new Regulations replace.
Who is Licensed to Remove Asbestos
The business/entity (asbestos removalist), not the individuals, will be responsible for removing the asbestos and will be required to have the appropriate class of licence under the new Regulations, except for some exclusions and transitional matters. Under transitional matters existing Certificate of Competence holders (usually individuals) can continue to remove or supervise removal of asbestos categories stated in their certificate until the certificate expires or generally until 4 April 2018 at the latest (in one case 4 Oct 2016).
Terms and Abbreviations
There are a few terms that it helps to understand:
Key terms for the article:
- Friable asbestos - a type of asbestos or ACM, that is a powder, or able to be crumbled, pulverised, or reduced to a powder by hand pressure when dry
- Non-friable asbestos - any type of asbestos or ACM that is not friable
- ACD - an asbestos containing dust or debris (more or less restricted by type of asbestos it comes from)
- ACM - an asbestos containing material (often asbestos bound into a composite material)
New Licence Classes
The new Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 asbestos removal licence requirements are:
- Class A licence for any type and quantity of asbestos.
- Class B licence for any quantity of non-friable asbestos or ACM, and related ACD.
- No licence is required for ≤10m² (cumulative for site) of non-friable asbestos or ACM, and related and minor ACD.
- Current certificates recognised by WorkSafe NZ (until they expire) for categories stated in the certificate.
For Class A or B work the licence holder must provide a copy of the appropriate licence to the owner (possibly via the contract administrator) before removal starts.
When no Licence is Required
No asbestos removal licence is required for up to and including 10m² of non-friable asbestos or ACM, and related and minor ACD. The 10m² is cumulative for the site for the course of the project.
Under general Health and Safety requirements it is expected that workers removing asbestos under this allowance may need to have received some minimal training. Apparently WorkSafe NZ intend to run courses for non-licensed, builders, roofers etc who may want to remove asbestos under this allowance.
In order to know which class of licence is required or if a licence is required at all, what type of asbestos and how much of it there is needs to be identified. Asbestos can be difficult to identify so samples may need to be tested in a laboratory. When asbestos is suspected it is recommended that an expert take the samples. From 4 April 2016 asbestos samples that require testing must be tested by an accredited laboratory. However, labs working toward IANZ accreditation may continue to test asbestos where WorkSafe has granted its approval. More information on the process will be provided in early 2016. In future WorkSafe may recognise labs accredited by another body other than IANZ.
WorkSafe NZ must be formally notified of any licensed asbestos removal to the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 at least 5 days before starting the work. This has changed from 24 hours under the old Regulations. There is the ability under the new Regulations to shorten time frames for emergencies.
Work carried out under a licence Class A or B must be supervised by an appropriately qualified supervisor named on the licence. Supervisors will be required to be at the removal area whenever Class A asbestos removal is being carried out. Supervisors will be required to be in the vicinity and readily available to a worker carrying out Class B asbestos removal work.
Removal Control Plan
The asbestos removalist is required to have a removal control plan for licensed removals (Class A and Class B). The control plan identifies the specific controls the licensed asbestos removalist will use to make sure people are not put at risk. It is expected that more details will be available in the Approved Code of Practice when finalised this year.
Under transition matters an independent competent person carries out the following tasks:
- air monitoring during Class A asbestos removal work
- clearance inspections for Class A and B asbestos removal work
- issuing clearance certificates for Class A and B asbestos removal work
From 4 April 2018 the new Regulations require a licensed Asbestos Assessor to carry these tasks (there is a two-year grace period to allow time for training to be developed).
Asbestos Management Plan
From 4 April 2018 an Asbestos Management Plan (a new concept) will be required by the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016, clauses 13 and 14. This requires the owner and/or tenant (PCBU) of a "workplace" (building/site) that has or is likely to have asbestos to prepare and maintain a written Asbestos Management Plan. In the meantime a PCBU of a workplace does have a duty to identify and manage asbestos at the workplace (Regs. Part 2, subpart 2).
An Asbestos Management Plan is unlikely to be required:
- for a home (and possibly a workplace that is a home)
- for workplaces constructed after 31 December 1999
- if no asbestos has been identified or is not likely to be present at the workplace
It is expected that more details will become available from WorkSafe NZ at a later time.
What do you do if Asbestos is discovered?
Although it may vary from project to project, the following are general steps that may be required if any (suspected) asbestos is unexpectedly discovered on site:
- If asbestos is bound/encapsulated in some way and there is no loose asbestos dust or fibres, stop any work in the affected area of the asbestos and any work that might disturb it. Otherwise, if asbestos is not bound/encapsulated and/or there is loose asbestos dust or fibres, stop any work in the affected area or possibly the whole site, depending on the ability to isolate the asbestos
- Seek expert advice and assistance
- Identify the type of asbestos (friable or non-friable), the form of asbestos (loose, bound, composite, ACM, ACD, etc), the area (m²) of asbestos - lab testing may be required
- Consider what action is required - removal, encapsulation, OK to leave as is. Notify the owner and contractor of details. Non-removal details are potentially very important as they will probably be required by a PCBU owner (particularly in the future)
- OK to leave as is - formally record the details
- For encapsulation - consider what techniques would suit and formally record the details
- For removal - consider if a licensed or non-licensed removal is required - if it is required to be licensed is it a Class A or Class B licence?
As you would expect the work section to be heavily updated is 2123 ASBESTOS REMOVAL (Standard, Services, Interiors, Structural & Civil) which addresses most of the issues raised in this article. To a lesser extent Demolition and related sections have been updated, particularly for Minor and Basic users.
2123 ASBESTOS REMOVAL uses the New Zealand Demolition and Asbestos Association (NZDAA) publication New Zealand guidelines for the management and removal of asbestos. Although some aspects of this publication related to legislation will now be out of date, the bulk of the publications content on removing, handling and disposing of asbestos will still be applicable, at least until a new edition is produced.
Masterspec will monitor the situation and try to keep you and the work sections up to date.
Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016
New licences requirements for asbestos removal (WorkSafe NZ guidance, although based on draft Regulation)
Find IANZ accredited laboratories in your area (then use the search word: asbestos)
WorkSafe NZ media release: Construction firm fined over failure to manage asbestos on demolition site
Ministry of Health - Asbestos