February 20, 2019

Fine for failing to test for asbestos

Fine for failing to test for asbestos

12 December 2014

Fine for failing to test for

Peter Page, the manager of Apartment
Renovation Company, has been fined $40,000 after he failed
to test a substance for asbestos. Mr Page was obliged to
have the textured ceilings tested for asbestos prior to
commencing the work.

Mr Page was sentenced today in the
Auckland District Court under Health and Safety in
Employment (Asbestos) Regulations and the Health and Safety
in Employment Act. Mr Page should have taken all practicable
steps to ensure that, when it was necessary to know whether
a substance was asbestos or not, the substance was
appropriately tested.

Shane Harris was employed as a
handyman by Peter Page to work on 10 units being renovated
and painted at a Kingsway Avenue site. Eight of the units
had textured ceilings.

Mr Harris started work on the site
on 29 July 2013 and about two weeks later he first expressed
his concerns about the ceilings to Mr Page. Because he did
not test for asbestos before work started, Mr Page was then
obliged to have the ceilings tested but did not. He told Mr
Harris that the ceilings had been tested and they were not
asbestos. This was not true. As a result up to 15
contractors were potentially exposed to the risk of asbestos
for approximately 3 months. When Mr Harris became concerned
that the advice he had received from the Mr Page was not
correct, he took his own sample which tested positive for

the presence of asbestos.

“It is recommended practice to
treat any suspect material, like textured ceilings, as
containing asbestos until test results prove otherwise,”
says Brett Murray, General Manager High Hazards and
Specialist Services. “Asbestos poses a risk if it is not
properly contained, especially during building work where

materials are cut or drilled.”

Peter Page had identified
the textured ceilings before work started but he thought the
ceilings were asbestos-free as they didn’t have sparkling
material visible to the eye. “Asbestos is often mixed with
other materials so it is virtually impossible to identify by
eye,” says Brett Murray. “The only way to be certain
that materials contain asbestos is to have them

“While Mr Page now routinely tests for asbestos
when working with textured ceilings, the regulations are
clear. If you are alerted to the possibility of asbestos in
any material, then you have to have that material

• Asbestos has been a major focus for
WorkSafe NZ over the past 12 months.
• In December
2013, WorkSafe New Zealand organised a trans-Tasman forum on asbestos in
Canterbury and in May 2014 we released an Asbestos Toolkit, a series of eight
factsheets on asbestos.
• We have also launched a new
website on asbestos aimed at helping homeowners and DIYers
understand the risks involved with asbestos and how to
manage them.
www.asbestosaware.co.nz was launched in
Christchurch by the Combined Health and Environment Risks
Programme Control Group made up of WorkSafe NZ, Environment
Canterbury, Christchurch City Council, CERA, Canterbury DHB
and Waimakariri District


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Fine for failing to test for asbestos

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