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H&S: Asbestos law changes are coming in April

If your business involves handling asbestos, you need to know about law changes designed to keep you and your workers safe.

As of 4 April 2016, most asbestos removal work will require a licence. This will affect not only asbestos removal businesses, but also builders, roofers and other tradespeople who remove asbestos.

The new laws will help make sure people removing asbestos have the skills and experience they need to keep themselves, and others, safe. Tragically, more than 170 New Zealanders die each year from asbestos-related diseases.

In the new regime there will be two types of licences available:

Class A licences. These will be required if you’re removing any amount of friable (powdery or has potential to become powdery) asbestos. The types of asbestos that can be removed include:

  • any type or quantity of asbestos, or asbestos containing material (ACM), including:
    • any amount of friable asbestos or ACM
    • any amount of asbestos.

Class B licences. These will be required if you’re removing more than 10m2 of non-friable asbestos. The types of asbestos that can be removed include:

  • any amount of non-friable (bonded) asbestos or ACM
  • asbestos contaminated dust or debris (ACD) associated with removing any amount of non-friable asbestos or ACM.

Note: No licences will be required if you’re removing:

  • Up to and including 10m2 of non-friable asbestos cumulatively over the course of the removal project
  • ACD associated with the removal of that amount of non-friable asbestos
  • ACD that’s not associated with the removal of asbestos and is only a minor contamination.

What do I need to do?

Licences can’t be issued until the regulations are passed, but if you know you’re going to need a Class B licence, you can register your interest in a Class B licence (external link) on the WorkSafe website now.

You’ll be asked for the following information:

  • the name of your business and where you operate
  • how many employees you have
  • the type of business you operate (building, roofing, etc)
  • contact details.
If you already have a Certificate of Competence for restricted asbestos work, you don’t need to do anything yet.

If you already have a Certificate of Competence for restricted asbestos work, you don’t need to do anything yet.

Your certificate will allow you to work under the new asbestos regulations (under the categories specified on your certificate), until your certificate expires. At that point, you will need to apply for one of the new licences or to work on another business’s licence.

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