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November 18, 2018

Asbestos remnants being removed from school remains


Asbestos remnants being removed from school remains


Last updated 05:00 13/01/2015

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Contractors are removing asbestos “crumbs” found in the remains of Aranui High School buildings demolished about four years ago.

Three buildings demolished at the school in 2010 as part of scheduled upgrades were removed but “some crumbs of materials remained buried and undisturbed”, Ministry of Education head of education infrastructure Rob Campbell said.

Surface materials were removed and the area isolated and the ministry engaged an expert consultant to investigate how to remove buried fragments.

The removal would be done before school reopened this year, he said.

“We have been advised that the risk to students or staff is minimal, as the materials which contained asbestos was buried undisturbed under the soil.”

Strict processes for managing asbestos would be carried out during any development, Campbell said.

Aranui High and community campus establishment board chairwoman Haneta Pierce said plans initially involved moving the original Maori whare from the high school onto the new site.

“Because of the asbestos, we can’t do that,” she said.

Aranui High principal John Rohs said the whare had a lot of cultural significance for the community and had been on the grounds for more than 30 years.

It had “a lot of asbestos in it which took us by surprise”, he said.

Original plans were to gift it to the new campus and Rohs was “deeply disappointed” it was no longer feasible.


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– The Press


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Asbestos remnants being removed from school remains

EQC slated after asbestos inquiry

EQC slated after asbestos inquiry

CECILE MEIER

Last updated 05:00, December 9 2014

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) failed to manage asbestos risks in earthquake home repairs, a report says.

WorkSafe New Zealand released its findings from an investigation into EQC’s Canterbury home repair programme since 2011. The investigation found deficiencies but not enough to lay charges because the risks to homeowners and contractors had been “very low”.

Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey has questioned the findings because 10 homes only had been tested as part of the investigation.

“To hold such firm conclusions after testing on such a small sample seems to be drawing an extremely long bow knowing at least 9000 homes are likely to contain asbestos,” he said.

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson defended his organisation, saying EQC prioritised the “most pressing needs” of Cantabrians after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

The investigation was inconclusive about how many houses were tested but found testing had been insufficient, especially in the programme’s first year.

The report also said EQC had not sought clarification of the potential risks before deciding this year not to retrospectively test repaired homes. No clear reason for this decision was provided.

However, experts said overall the risks associated with the type of repair work being carried out were “unlikely to cause any asbestos-related deaths”.

Simpson said the research found even in a worst-case scenario, the risks did not reach a level where a single worker could be expected to develop mesothelioma or lung cancer.

“Our priority was to get people into safe and warm homes as soon as possible.


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“We focused first on removing potentially lethal hazards such as unstable chimneys, providing or repairing heating before the onset of winter, and ensuring homes were weather tight.”

Contractors had been required to manage health and safety risks on site – including asbestos – from the start of the programme, he said.

The independent research cited in the WorkSafe report was commissioned by Fletcher EQR and conducted by Australian health risk consultants Greencap NAA.


– The Press

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EQC slated after asbestos inquiry

Building firm fined for ignoring asbestos warning at school

A Caterham building contractor has been fined £50,000 for ignoring asbestos safety rules after the deadly material was discovered at an independent girls’ school in Woldingham.

Buxton Building Contractors Ltd was fined and ordered to pay £26,217 costs by Guildford Crown Court on Monday (January 13), having pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The firm, based in High Street, Caterham, was carrying out refurbishment work at Woldingham School for Girls in 2011 and had commissioned a specialist survey to search for asbestos, but failed to act when it was discovered in a basement area.

It allowed a number of different contractors, including a teenage apprentice electrician, to work in the area until someone raised the alarm when he broke through the ceiling and exposed asbestos insulation boarding.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) began an investigation in July 2011 and prosecuted the company for safety breaches.

Guildford Crown Court heard the firm was the principal contractor remodelling the school’s dining area and kitchen.

After a surveyor was employed to look specifically at the undercroft area – which had been omitted from an earlier asbestos report – and the survey highlighted the presence of the hazardous material, Buxton Building Contractors failed to deal with it or provide any safeguards for workers on site, the court was told.

Workers had unrestricted access for at least two weeks but the area was sealed off by a licensed asbestos contractor once an employee discovered the material.

Buxton Building Contractors admitted a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to plan, manage and properly monitor the construction work at the school.

After the court hearing, HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said: “This was a serious failing on the part of the company.

“Having correctly commissioned an asbestos survey, it looks as though no-one at Buxton Contractors Ltd bothered to read it.

“Or if they did, they disregarded its contents and failed to act to protect site workers from exposure to what is one of the deadly killers in the construction industry.

“As a result, several people, including the young apprentice, were unnecessarily exposed to the risk of inhaling asbestos fibres.

“One can only wish and hope that there are no serious consequences for these workers in the future.

“It is vital that companies are fully aware of not just the duty to get an asbestos survey done, but then to act on its findings.

“There is considerable guidance freely available from HSE to assist duty-holders to deal with asbestos materials properly.”

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Building firm fined for ignoring asbestos warning at school