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July 17, 2018

Not testing for asbestos got boss $40k fine

The manager of a renovation company has been fined $40,000 for failing to test for asbestos and putting his staff in danger while renovating units in Auckland.

Peter Page from Apartment Renovation Company was ordered to pay the fine at Auckland District Court today for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that a substance was tested for asbestos.

As a result, up to 15 contractors were potentially exposed to asbestos for three months while working on units in Sandringham.

In July last year Shane Harris, a handyman employed by Page, expressed concern about whether some of the units’ textured ceiling contained asbestos.

Given he had not tested them before work began, Page should have tested them in response to the handyman’s query.

He did not and instead told Mr Harris that the ceilings had been tested and there was no asbestos.

When the handyman became concerned that his boss was giving him incorrect information, he took his own sample which tested positive for the presence of asbestos.

Page said he thought the ceilings were asbestos-free as they didn’t have sparkling material visible to the eye.

WorkSafe NZ manager of high hazards Brett Murray said only tests can show if materials contain asbestos.

“Asbestos is often mixed with other materials so it is virtually impossible to identify by eye,” he said.

“The only way to be certain that materials contain asbestos is to have them tested.”

Asbestos poses a risk if it is not properly contained, especially during building work where materials are cut or drilled.”

He reminded builders in charge that if they are alerted to the possibility of asbestos in any material, then they must have that material tested.

NZN

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Not testing for asbestos got boss $40k fine