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January 21, 2018

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

Taken from: 

EQC slated after asbestos inquiry

Asbestos risk 'very low' in quake repairs: Worksafe

Asbestos risk ‘very low’ in quake repairs: Worksafe

CECILE MEIER

Last updated 17:38, December 8 2014

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

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

The investigation found:

– Prior to June 2012, asbestos was seldom discussed or tested for.

– EQC contractors took waste from repairs to a dump that was not approved for asbestos-contaminated material.

– Within a sample of 35 home repairs, WorkSafe found contractors often started repairs “without [providing] any record of an adequate safety plan”. There were only 12 safety plans in the sample of 35 home repairs.

– Six out of 10 homes tested as part of the investigation contained asbestos. In these houses, repairs had been completed without prior testing.

Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey 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. 


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

EQC’s safety system had been inadequate and lacked monitoring and feedback processes. The report said poor management of asbestos risk may have extended to quality management of the repairs.

It 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, the report found.

However, experts said overall the risks associated with the type of repair work being carried out was “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.

“We focussed 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. WorkSafe’s experts reviewed this research as part of its investigation.


– The Press

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Asbestos risk 'very low' in quake repairs: Worksafe

Canterbury asbestos investigation: No charges to be laid

WorkSafe New Zealand has concluded its investigation into the management of asbestos in the Canterbury Home Repair Programme and has decided not to lay any charges.

WorkSafe launched an investigation earlier this year in response to allegations about the adequacy of the Earthquake Commission and Fletcher EQR’s systems for identifying and managing the hazard of asbestos during the initial stages of the Canterbury rebuild.

WorkSafe’s chief executive, Gordon MacDonald, says that the investigation found that there were some deficiencies in the management of asbestos during the early phases of the Home Repair Programme. However, given what we know about the type of work carried in the Home Repair Programme the risk of harm to workers and residents was very low and prosecution was not justified.

“Exposure to asbestos is a very real occupational health hazard, and one that WorkSafe takes very seriously. That’s why we undertook a thorough investigation of the circumstances.”

That investigation included:

– extensive reviews of EQC and Fletcher EQR documentation, their systems and processes

– interviews with management, contractors and residents

– property inspections and asbestos testing in a limited number of houses – including surface and air testing WorkSafe also contracted independent experts to review research conducted on behalf of Fletcher EQR into breathable fibre release during certain types of repair work

The investigation found there were some deficiencies in the management of asbestos and the process of testing for its presence prior to work beginning during the early phases of the Home Repair Programme. However, the level of asbestos likely to have been released was very low, as was the risk to workers. The risk to residents is likely to have been even lower.

“Given the scale of work in Canterbury it’s inevitable there were instances where work was not up to best practice and our investigation did identify shortcomings with the management of asbestos. But based on our investigation and expert advice WorkSafe is satisfied the over-all risks from asbestos in the Home Repair Programme have been very low.

“It has to be remembered that in the weeks and months after the Canterbury earthquakes there was an incredible amount of work done – both demolitions and emergency repairs. People and organisations were stretched and conditions were far from ideal.

“Over the course of the Home Repair Programme considerable improvements have been made in the way asbestos has been managed by contractors, and WorkSafe and its Canterbury Rebuild Safety Charter partners have worked hard to educate tradespeople and contractors about the occupational health risks asbestos pose.

“Let me be absolutely clear about this; asbestos is not something to be taken lightly and the risks of exposure need to be very carefully managed. WorkSafe will continue to work with all companies involved in the rebuild to ensure that asbestos is managed appropriately – and to ensure the lessons learned in Canterbury are heeded nationwide,” says Gordon MacDonald.

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Canterbury asbestos investigation: No charges to be laid

Keeping Safe and Up to Date with Boss UKATA Asbestos Category B Training

Asbestos Removal

although awareness training is a legal requirement, it doesn’t allow operatives to remove asbestos. Specialist contractors need to be brought in to do this. Non-licensed asbestos removal can be undertaken following UKATA category b training

(PRWEB UK) 4 October 2013

Everyone is aware of the dangers of asbestos and as a result very little is used these days for everyday purposes but every now and again staff can come up against it in their work and they must know how to deal with it safely. The new course offered by Boss Training covers all aspects on non-licensed asbestos work, as outlined by the Health and Safety Executive’s guide on the subject. The course only takes one day and is time well spent.

Risk assessment

To be able to be undertaken by a non-licensed operative, the asbestos must conform to certain conditions set down in the guidelines and being able to assess whether these terms are met is an important part of dealing with the substance. The Boss course covers the rules comprehensively but does not rely merely on theoretical training; there is a helpful practical element also, to make sure that all attendees know exactly what it is they are looking for.

Who might need the training?

The United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) has designed the course content to suit employees who may be asked to undertake unlicensed asbestos removal activities. This would typically be someone who works for short periods and not in any regular way with non-friable materials which, when worked on, release only a small amount of fibres. This type of work could include drilling into textured coatings, removing insulating board and lifting floor tiles but there are other jobs which might occasionally bring someone into contact with asbestos. As it is far better to be safe than sorry, anyone who might find themselves in this position should get the relevant training.

What does the HSE say about asbestos?

The Health and Safety Executive allows non-licensed work with asbestos as long as the concentration in the air is less than 0.6 asbestos fibres/cm3 over 10 minutes and that the person’s exposure will be less than 0.1 fibres per cm3. Needless to say, understanding the measurement of fibres needs to be explained to most people and this is where the course comes in. Apart from these criteria, the job must be short and non-continuous with none-friable materials and that the asbestos material is in good condition or coated to prevent high fibre counts. There is also a necessity to monitor the air for confirmation that the concentration is acceptable.

Safety and peace of mind

The Boss Training course is delivered every month in Leeds but any company with more than eight staff to train can arrange on-site training. This is a good way to make sure that the training is absolutely geared to what employees might meet in their day to day work; Boss are always happy to discuss any queries any employer might have regarding asbestos safety and what training would be most suitable.

What is covered?

Boss UKATA Asbestos Category B Training Course covers absolutely everything that a member of staff would need to know about dealing with the risks of asbestos removal but also covers, more importantly, how to identify a risk when it occurs. It covers the essential record keeping necessary with regard to air monitoring as well as how to actually carry out the monitoring itself. It covers – with theoretical and practical modules – the safe removal of asbestos, including dust suppression techniques, decontamination, handling waste and perhaps most importantly, emergency methods. At the end of the course there is an assessment and all successful attendees will receive UKATA registered Non Licensed Asbestos Removal Training Certificate and photo I.D. card which many people find useful when tendering for work. It is also a useful reminder for when refresher courses might be due, so everyone’s knowledge is kept up to date.


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Keeping Safe and Up to Date with Boss UKATA Asbestos Category B Training

Thetford mother’s fear over asbestos risk

Thetford mother’s fear over asbestos risk


Wednesday, October 2, 2013
7:56 AM

A mother of two has said described her fears for her children’s health after a housing association carried out work to remove asbestos from a burnt-out garage near her home.

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Rebecca Capell, of Saxon Close, Thetford, was sat in her garden with her children, four-year-old Haiden and one-year-old Paige, while contractors sent by Flagship Housing worked on garages that back on to her house, without warning to residents.

Ms Capell said she noticed the workmen were wearing face masks as they removed roofing and realised it was partly asbestos.

She said she was worried the dust from the asbestos may have passed into her garden and been breathed in by her children.

“They should have been telling us to keep the windows and doors shut. Luckily I knew the roofs had asbestos in them so I took my children straight inside but it was a sunny day and if we hadn’t known we could have been out there the whole time they were working.

“Asbestos is not nice stuff and they have put mine and my children’s health at risk,” she said.

Ms Capell added that she has since spoken to her doctor who informed her any effects from asbestos would not develop for several years.

The workmen were removing the roofs from garages that had burnt down after a fire on August 31.

The blaze had started just days after residents had warned Flagship – who own the garages – that people had been fly-tipping there and that the area needed to be cleared.

Ms Capell said she has since had Flagship Housing’s health and safety officer visit her house and apologise for not warning residents of the asbestos removal.

However, she said it was not an official apology and she is yet to hear from the housing association otherwise.

A spokeswoman for Flagship said the type of asbestos being removed meant that Ms Capell had no reason to be concerned.

“We take any works containing asbestos very seriously and always use professional contractors who work within strict health and safety guidelines.

“In this case, our contractors were removing low level asbestos containing material, and with no wider risk to the public, it was not necessary to notify all properties within the area.

“If any members of the public have any questions on such works we happily discuss this with them,” she said.

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Thetford mother’s fear over asbestos risk

Building firm boss from Old Weston fined over asbestos

A soffit containing asbestosA soffit containing asbestos

EXPOSING workers to potentially lethal asbestos has cost a building firm boss more than £10,000 in fines and costs.

Michael Southern allowed workers to carry on removing soffit boards on a house which was being refurbished, despite being warned that they contained asbestos, a court has been told.

Southern, 48, of Brington Road, Old Weston, near Huntingdon, had not carried out a suitable survey to determine whether asbestos was present, magistrates in Bedford heard.

He admitted four offences of breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations on August 30 last year and was fined £7,015 and ordered to pay £3,200 costs.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), told the court that Southern, owner of Bedford-based PMF Cladding, exposed an employee and a casual labourer to potentially fatal airborne asbestos fibres while they were removing and replacing soffits on a house at Sharnbrook.

He had not carried out a suitable survey in advance to see if asbestos – which causes around 4,500 deaths a year – was in the building and did not hold a licence to work with the dangerous material.

The HSE said that a neighbour told Southern that the soffits were made of asbestos insulating board but this did not stop him from carrying on with the work.

A complaint was made to the HSE and work was halted immediately after an inspector visited the site.

The HSE investigation found that Southern was aware from other jobs that soffits may contain asbestos, but had not taken this into account when assessing the job. He had also failed to provide information and training to workers who could be exposed to fibres.

After the hearing Gavin Bull, from the HSE, said: “Mr Southern, as a person running a cladding installation business, should have been in no doubt about the dangers posed by asbestos and of the regulations governing work with this material.

“Despite this, he progressed this work without testing the material to be removed for the presence of asbestos.

“This resulted in those working there being exposed to risk of inhaling airborne asbestos fibres without taking any suitable precautions.”

Mr Bull said: “This incident was entirely preventable and highlights the importance of having a robust asbestos management system in place.”

He said the type, location and condition of all asbestos-containing materials should be established and precautions put in place before work starts.

Mr Bull said higher-risk notifiable work should only be carried out by a licensed contractor.

Asbestos is is the single biggest cause or work-related deaths in the UK, with the material still found in many buildings.

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Building firm boss from Old Weston fined over asbestos