Concerns have been raised about homeowner and contractors’ exposure to asbestos as a result of the Canterbury rebuild.
Health and safety auditor WorkSafe New Zealand has been reported as investigating how Fletcher EQR (a Fletcher Construction business unit that works with EQC to repair earthquake damaged homes) handles situations when asbestos is encountered while undertaking work for the rebuild.
To date, WorkSafe has commenced six investigations into the handling of asbestos by Fletcher EQR. No charges were laid for five of these, and one investigation is still ongoing.
Fletcher Construction’s Chief Executive says that records of homes where asbestos has been found are kept by Fletcher EQR and the EQC, and are shared with homeowners, but currently there is no legal requirement to notify WorkSafe of cases of possible asbestos exposure.
The current Health and Safety in Employment (Asbestos) Regulations are being reviewed as part of the wider health and safety reforms. To view the consultation document for the asbestos regulation reforms, click here. One of the aims of this review is to bring New Zealand’s asbestos regulation closer in line with the Australian model.