Roles and responsibilities for businesses and workers
Find out about your general responsibilities relating to asbestos, such as the requirement to identify and manage it if it's present in your workplace.
Working with Asbestos
The Health and Safety (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 place restrictions on the work that can be done on asbestos and asbestos containing materials.
Working with asbestos is prohibited by the Asbestos Regulations(external link), except for certain specified activities:
- asbestos-related work
- asbestos removal.
As a PCBU you must ensure that your working environment is free of airborne asbestos fibres.
Responsibilities for identifying asbestos or ACM in the workplace
If a PCBU knows, or can reasonably expect that there is a risk of exposure to respirable asbestos fibres in their workplace, it must make sure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that all asbestos or asbestos containing material (ACM) is identified.
- ACM – includes items such as concrete, window putty and stipple ceiling coatings.
If a workplace has more than one PCBU, all PCBUs must, so far as is practicable, consult, co-operate with and coordinate activities with one another to make sure they meet their legal duties. An example of this is a tenant in a commercial building communicating with the building owner.
The first step in managing asbestos is to identify if it is present at your workplace, and there are a few ways you could choose to do this:
- you could make your best guess following the WorkSafe Approved Code of Practice Guidance
- you could choose to train your staff to identify asbestos
- you can employ a surveyor to assess your building
- you could assume that your building or workplace contains asbestos, and write your plan accordingly.
When you do a survey, you must use an IANZ accredited laboratory to test samples for the presence of asbestos or asbestos containing materials.
Testing for asbestos
Note: If your building was built prior to 1 January 2000 it is more likely to contain asbestos containing material
Read our factsheets on:
Managing asbestos risks
For those PCBUs that manage a workplace where asbestos has been identified there is a duty to develop an asbestos management plan by 4 April 2018.
Check out our handy guide on asbestos management plans to find out more.
Once the plan has been developed, you must make sure that a copy of the plan for the workplace is available to:
- a worker (or their representative) who has carried out, or intends to carry out work at the workplace, and
- a PCBU that has required, or may require work to be carried out at the workplace – for example, a builder.
Review your plan
You must make sure that the plan is reviewed and, if necessary, revised if:
- there is a review of a control measure
- asbestos is removed from, or disturbed, sealed, or enclosed at, the workplace
- the plan is no longer adequate for managing the asbestos or ACM risk at the workplace
- a representative requests a review as detailed below
- five years have passed since the plan was last reviewed.
Getting work done
If you have asbestos in your workplace, then you have some specific duties should you wish to do construction work. The duties depend on the work that you are embarking on: