WorkSafe Prosecution Corner

13 Feb 2020

A Motueka company has been fined $108,000 following a WorkSafe prosecution for the unsafe removal of asbestos.

In August 2018 the company started demolishing a building known to have asbestos in its roof and walls.

WorkSafe’s principal advisor for asbestos, Robert Birse, said despite knowing this the company cut corners and carried out unsafe demolition work.

“The company should have ensured there was no asbestos in the building by engaging a competent licensed person to complete the safe removal before demolition work commenced,” Birse said.

“The dangers of asbestos are well known by those in the industry and the wider public.”

He says any renovation or demolition of a building with asbestos needs a removal control plan in place -“or they run a very real risk of exposing workers and members of the public to harmful asbestos fibres”.

Mr Birse said an estimated 220 people die from asbestos-related disease each year in New Zealand and WorkSafe is reminding businesses that the mismanagement of asbestos removal is unacceptable.

More information from WorkSafe on asbestos is here.

 Key points:

  • A fine of $108,000 was imposed.
  • The company was sentenced under sections 49(1), 49(2)(c) and 36(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
  • In this case the breach refers to a  Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) failing to comply with the duty of ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who worked for the PCBU while the workers carried out the demolition.
  • The Act carries a maximum penalty of $500,000.