Asbestos Surveys for Body Corporate – It’s New Zealand Law!

Asbestos related illness and disease is the single largest cause of work-related deaths in New Zealand each year. Approximately 170 New Zealanders die each year as a result of asbestos and this trend is unfortunately on the rise. This is nearly the same number of lives claimed by the tragic Christchurch earthquake in 2011. 

A WorkSafe spokesperson advised in a Herald interview, that they expect Asbestos related deaths to continue rising and will peak sometime between 2030 and 2040.   

In 2016, New Zealand parliament handed down the Health & Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations that took a very strict view on any person, company or body corporate that may be living in or operating in a building that may contain asbestos.  

The regulations aim to curb the growing number of asbestos related deaths and align with the rest of the world in responsibly controlling asbestos in our built environments. From 2016, it was mandated in legislation that every body corporate building built prior to January 2000 must (without question) complete an asbestos survey to determine if there is any asbestos containing material in the building. According to Stats NZ data, approximately two thirds of all NZ dwellings were built before the ban of asbestos. That’s two out of three properties that have a high potential to contain asbestos material.

Failure to complete an asbestos survey can result in a fine to the body corporate of up to $50,000 and also a fine to those individuals involved in managing the building of $10,000 -$50,000. Subsequent fines can then also be issued for failing to prepare a management plan, restrict access, clearly indicate presence of asbestos etc. 

Often the debate with owners begins with… how can the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) apply to body corporate?  

Simple, the HSWA 2015 and Regs 2016 states: A body corporate is a PCBU – Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking. This is undisputed and corroborated by a number of New Zealand Body Corporate specialist lawyers. Therefore, as a PCBU whether a workplace or not, a body corporate is responsible and liable for the common property of the building and anyone lawfully coming onto the property.  

The penalty of fines was designed to not just target building owners but also those responsible for managing PCBU (Body Corporate). The legislation is designed to implicate building mangers, property managers and body corporate managers should the requirements of the HSWA Regs 2016 not be met.   

If an audit was to be done by WorkSafe NZ, a non-compliant portfolio of bodies corporate could result in millions of dollars in fines for a body corporate management company failing its H&S Duty. 

Many bodies corporate are still yet to complete a legally required Asbestos Survey and consequently run the risk every day of receiving huge fines should someone be exposed to asbestos that should have been identified.   

Solutions in Engineering have completed over 15,000 Asbestos Reports and specialise in completing surveys for the purpose of fulfilling this H&S duty. We aim to prevent exposure to asbestos and ensure that managers and committees are not implicated for failing their H&S Duty.  

If you have any bodies corporate that have not completed an asbestos survey but were built before 2000, please contact Solutions In Engineering on 0800 136 036 so that we can help ensure your schemes and management firm are not fined for negligence in failing to adhere to these H&S requirements.

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