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Employers who don’t own their premises

If you are an employer who doesn’t own the premises in which you operate your business - for example, if you lease or rent your premises, you should check your leasing agreement to establish to what extent you may have management or control.

Employers are also responsible for additional legal duties in their capacity as an employer in relation to managing asbestos. For example, employers may have a duty to consult under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 in relation to managing and removing asbestos in their workplace.

Find and identify

You have a duty to identify asbestos in your workplace (including inaccessible areas) so far as is reasonably practicable that is under your management or control. In doing so, ask for the asbestos register from your building manager or owner.  

You must also identify whether any plant or equipment that you have management or control over contains asbestos (ie: asbestos was widely used in gasket and friction brake products).

For example: You should identify when the building was constructed and what materials [insert link to the asbestos materials list here] were used in its construction. You must also identify asbestos in plant or equipment under your management or control so far as is reasonably practicable.

Use a competent person to identify asbestos. Anyone engaged to inspect asbestos, determining risk, or recommending control measures must be competent to do so.

If there is uncertainty (based on reasonable grounds) as to whether any material is likely to contain asbestos, then you either:

  • assume asbestos is present; or
  • arrange for analysis of a sample to be undertaken.

Samples should be taken in a controlled manner that does not create a risk to the person taking the sample, or people who will work or visit the area where the sample was taken, and arrange for analysis of asbestos samples.

For more detailed information about finding and identifying asbestos for employers who don't own their premises.

Manage

You are responsible for managing asbestos in your workplace (including plant) that is under your management and control, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes ensuring all asbestos and suspected asbestos is documented in your asbestos register.

If the asbestos is in good condition and left undisturbed, it is usually safer to leave it fixed or installed and review its condition over time provided it is unlikely that asbestos fibres will be released into the air and the risk to health is extremely low. Employers must ensure that the presence and location of identified asbestos is clearly indicated, and if reasonably practicable, the indication is by labelling.

There are a number of steps you can take to help you manage and control asbestos in your workplace, including controlling the risk and notifying anyone contracted to work at the workplace of the presence of asbestos, consulting with employees (including Health and Safety Representatives) and managing your asbestos register. Information and instruction obligations also apply.

You must notify your building manager or owner if any of your business activities will create a risk because of the asbestos in the workplace.

For futher information about managing asbestos in your workplace.

Remove and dispose

Asbestos removal work is dangerous, and should always be performed by a Licensed Asbestos Removalist who is trained to remove and dispose of asbestos safely, without risk to you and your employees.

Unlicensed removal of limited amounts of asbestos is permitted in certain circumstances only, and is not recommended. If you don’t own your premises, your building manager or owner is responsible for ensuring the safe removal of asbestos over which they have management or control. However, you are still responsible for ensuring your employees are not exposed to airborne asbestos fibres, so you will need to work closely with your building manager, and the asbestos removalist, to eliminate any risks to your employees.

If removal of asbestos is required from plant or equipment over which you have management or control then you are responsible for the safe removal of that asbestos.

If you need to remove asbestos the safest way to do this is to find a Licensed Asbestos Removalist, using this guide to the process.