A small business in Timaru has been fined $10,000 for failing to follow correct asbestos removal procedures. This error of judgement stems from a failure to test the building for asbestos prior to demolition.
This case highlights the importance of having an asbestos survey undertaken by a competent person and implementing an asbestos management plan. WorkSafe are reminding businesses and property owners that a negligent approach to removing asbestos not only puts you at risk but also those around you.
This message comes after Topham Holding Limited was recently sentenced in the Timaru District Court.
During the demolition of an old chicken shed in 2016, Topham Holding’s sole Director removed sheeting which contained asbestos, without first engaging a competent person to ensure the asbestos was removed. The director had ignored advice from WorkSafe a year earlier that the building was likely to contain asbestos and needed to be surveyed, and proceeded to carry out the demolition regardless.
Cheif Inspector of Investigations Keith Steward said: “Topham Holding was aware of the presence of asbestos and was negligent in ignoring the well-known risks of asbestos and our advice about the demolition.”
“No one is exempt from managing the risk of asbestos appropriately. Asbestos management is not a job for a layperson – it is a job for a competent and trained professional. It’s not just about keeping you safe and healthy – but those are you as well”.
Topman Holding Limited was sentenced under the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016, as the company was a PCBU with management or control of a workplace or of a structure and yet failed to ensure as far as reasonably practicable that the asbestos was removed before demolition – a requirement under these regulations.