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Renovating or demolishing a building built before 2000? What you need to know

By Geoff Hardy - 16 Nov 2018

In April 2018 Meika McHardy of our firm posted a blog on what you need to know about asbestos and home renovation. She pointed out that asbestos is now the single biggest cause of death from work-related disease, and that on 4 April 2018 the new regulations governing asbestos came fully into effect. What is probably not fully appreciated is how widespread the use of asbestos was during the period from 1940 to 2000.

Pretty much any commercial or residential building constructed or substantially altered during that time can be expected to contain some. This means that if you are renovating or demolishing any building falling into that category, you have to investigate whether it will release any dangerous asbestos particles into the air, and if so, you must have it safely removed or isolated by experts.

Perhaps not surprisingly, that law is still not widely known or consistently adhered to. The first example of that emerged recently, when a builder who carried out a demolition job on a Riccarton building in February 2017 was fined $3,000 in a prosecution brought by WorkSafe New Zealand. The penalty would have been greater, but for the fact that the builder was bankrupt and his company had gone into liquidation.

This was the first successful prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016, but we suspect there will be many more to come. We can help in a number of ways. Regardless of whether you are a property owner or a member of the building industry, we can unravel for you the sometimes complex and confusing morass of rules and regulations surrounding asbestos. And if you are on the receiving end of a prosecution, we can ensure your rights are observed and you are treated fairly.

As with anything else, we prefer to be the fence at the top of the cliff to the ambulance at the bottom. So we encourage you to be proactive and to check out the relevant law ahead of time. That way, we can all contribute to avoiding the very serious health consequences that an exposure to asbestos can involve.


Geoff Hardy


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