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Employers who own their premises

If you have management or control of the workplace then you have specific legal responsibilities related to asbestos.

Even if you engage a property manager, these legal duties still apply to you.

Employers also have additional duties in relation to managing asbestos. For example, employers 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. You must also identify asbestos in plant under your management or control so far as is reasonably practicable.

To begin with, you should identify when the building was constructed and what materials were used in its construction. 

Anyone identifying asbestos, determining risks or recommending control measures needs to have the right knowledge, skills and experience. For example, an occupational hygienist with experience in identifying asbestos and assessing associated risks.

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

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

You must ensure samples are taken in a controlled manner that, so far as is reasonably practicable, eliminates the release of airborne asbestos fibres.

For further information see: 

Manage

You are responsible for ensuring all asbestos and suspected asbestos is documented in your asbestos register. You must also 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 must take to manage and control asbestos in your workplace, including maintaining an asbestos register, consulting with employees, controlling associated risks and notifying anyone contracted to work at the workplace of the presence of asbestos.

You must also provide employees with the necessary training to perform their work safely and consult with them on matters related to health or safety, including risk control measures to be used when working with asbestos.

If the asbestos is in good condition and is unlikely to release asbestos fibres into the air when left undisturbed, it is usually safer to leave it fixed or installed and review its condition over time.

If the asbestos has deteriorated, been disturbed or if asbestos-contaminated 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 so far as is reasonably practicable, for example, by removing the asbestos. In circumstances where asbestos is removed, you must update your asbestos register.

For further information see:

Remove and dispose

As the person with management or control of the workplace, if you decide to remove asbestos from your premises, you are responsible for ensuring the removal is carried out safely.

Use a licensed asbestos removalist

Licensed asbestos removalists are trained to remove and dispose of asbestos safely, without risk to you and your employees. When you arrange for a licensed removalist to do the work, you must:

  • consult with your employees (including health and safety representatives)
  • obtain a clearance certificate
  • update the asbestos register

Follow this detailed guide to using a licensed asbestos removalist.

Limited self-removal of non-friable asbestos

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017, an employer or self-employed person can conduct a limited amount of asbestos removal work without a licence involving:

  • the removal of non-friable asbestos-containing material if:
    • 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).
  • the removal of asbestos-contaminated dust if:
    • the asbestos removal work does not exceed 10 minutes 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.