Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral and can typically be found in rock, sediment or soil. It has strong fibres that are heat resistant and have good insulating properties. Asbestos becomes a health risk when its fibres are released into the air and breathed in. Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
In April 2018, a regulation was enforced for all business buildings and workplaces to have an asbestos management plan that identifies any asbestos and has a written action plan in case of an incident. Anyone who owns a home is considered a Person Conducting Business or Undertaking (PCBU), and is therefore responsible to enforce a management plan for asbestos. PCBU is accountable for any work that will be carried out in the property. A PCBU may be an individual person or an organisation.
If the structure was built prior to the 2000s there may still be some form of asbestos in it. Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) stopped being imported and produced by the 1990s, but any stocks of the materials were used up until around the 2000s. Evidence of asbestos can still be found in most homes or workplaces today.
What should be in an asbestos management plan?
The asbestos management plan states where and what asbestos is in the building, and a plan of how this will be managed. This plan can be written electronically or in paper form, as long as it includes the below:
- The location of the asbestos
- Management plans (removal, encapsulation, painted, or if you will just leave it as it is)
- The plan of action in case of incidents or emergencies
- Timeframe for managing asbestos exposure. This could include dates for removal, any activities that could create a change in the environment, and a review timeline. At a minimum, your asbestos documentation needs to be revised and reviewed every five years.
- This plan will be supplied to any worker coming on-site to ensure they don’t expose asbestos fibres while carrying out any maintenance.
A visual assessment and survey of the building or structure should be completed to be able to locate the asbestos in your place. A qualified person should have experience in identifying where asbestos is or may be through training, qualifications and experience. See other options below for how you can identify asbestos in your building:
- Carry out your own survey if you are ‘qualified’ and read the guide to asbestos surveying before assessing your own building.
- Get your staff trained to recognise potential asbestos.
- Employ a professional asbestos assessor to assist in your survey.
- Another option is you can assume everything in the building is asbestos and write the asbestos management plan accordingly (this is not recommended as a long term solution).
If you are planning on surveying as a qualified person, know that it is often better said to have no survey than a poorly written one. A survey with inaccurate information can lead to a false sense of security for workers who come on-site and increase the risk of asbestos exposure.
Article Reference: https://chemcare.co.nz/articles/asbestos-management-plan