Employers who own their premises
If you have management or control of the workplace then you have legal responsibilities related to asbestos.
Even if you engage, for example: a property manager, you will still have legal duties in relation to managing and removing asbestos.
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.
For example: You should identify when the building was constructed and what materials were used in its construction. You must also consider asbestos in plant under your management or control.
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.
For further information on how to find and identify asbestos in your workplace, you should review the detailed information, some of which is also found in Identification and control of asbestos in workplaces.
You are responsible for managing asbestos in your workplace (including plant) 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. An employer 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 and managing the asbestos register. You should train and educate employees and consult with them on the control solutions for Asbestos.
If the asbestos has deteriorated, been disturbed or if asbestos dust is present, the likelihood that airborne asbestos fibres will be released into the air is increased. If there is a risk of exposure to airborne asbestos fibres, you must control the risk, for example, by removing the asbestos. In circumstances where asbestos is removed, you need to revise your asbestos register.
For more detailed information, see managing asbestos in your workplace or refer to A step-by-step guide to managing asbestos in workplaces.
Remove and dispose
As the person with management or control, if you decide to remove asbestos from your premises, or from plant or equipment, you are responsible to ensure the removal is carried out safely.
Use a Licensed Asbestos Removalist
Asbestos removal work 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. To arrange for this work to be done, you need to:
- Find a Licensed Asbestos Removalist
- Consult with your employees (including Health and Safety Representatives)
- If you commission the asbestos removal work, you must obtain a clearance certificate
- Update the asbestos register
Limited self-removal of non-friable asbestos
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007, an employer or self-employed person can conduct a limited amount of asbestos removal work without a licence if:
- the asbestos-containing material is non-friable; and
- the area of asbestos-containing material to be removed does not exceed 10 square metres in total; and
- the total time asbestos removal work is performed in any period of seven days does not exceed one hour (this period is the cumulative total time the asbestos removal work is carried out by all employees over a period of seven days).
Find further information about self-removal of asbestos in the workplace.