1 P a g e. Asbestos. Serpentine Group. Amphibole. Amosite (brown) Crocidolite (blue) Chrysotile (white) Actinolite Tremolite Anthophyllite

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1 Asbestos background information This document provides a range of background information about asbestos to help those unfamiliar with the topic to engage with the policy proposals for new regulations covering work involving asbestos. These proposals are contained in chapter 4 of the Developing regulations to support the new Health and Safety at Work Act discussion document. What is asbestos? The term asbestos is used for a group of naturally occurring minerals that take the form of long thin fibres and fibre bundles. These minerals are non-biodegradable, have great tensile strength, conduct heat poorly and are relatively resistant to chemical weathering, such as from rainwater. Due to these characteristics, asbestos has been widely used throughout the world, particularly in building and insulation materials, including boilers and heating vessels; cement pipe; clutch, brake, and transmission components; conduits for electrical wire; pipe covering; roofing products; duct and home insulation; fire protection panels; furnace insulating pads; pipe or boiler insulation; sheet vinyl or floor tiles and underlay for sheet flooring. Types of asbestos Asbestos Serpentine Group Amphibole Chrysotile (white) Actinolite Tremolite Anthophyllite Amosite (brown) Crocidolite (blue) The hazard of asbestos Damage to material that contains asbestos can result in the release of small asbestos fibres that become airborne and are readily inhaled. The World Health Organisation has determined that the ingestion of asbestos through the digestive system, such as through contaminants from asbestos pipes in drinking water, does not present the same carcinogenic hazard as presented by inhalation. Although not acutely toxic, inhaled asbestos fibres can remain in the lungs for long periods and can cause serious lung disease including asbestosis, lung cancer, pleural thickening and mesothelioma. These diseases have long latency periods, in the order of years, and are associated with all forms of asbestos. 1 P a g e

2 Hazards presented by the different types of asbestos All types of asbestos fibres are known to cause serious health hazards in humans, although blue asbestos is considered to be the most harmful. There are a number of diseases that can be related to the deposit and penetration of asbestos fibres in the lungs following inhalation, including: Asbestosis (scarring of lung tissues) Mesothelioma (malignant cancers developing around the linings of either the chest or the abdominal cavities) Lung cancer (often associated with smoking, but sharply increasing an individual s risk of disease) Pleural plaques (thickening of membranes around the lungs which may or may not lead to further disease, and leading to varying degrees of debilitation). There has been awareness of the health hazards presented by asbestos since the 1930s and before, but the issue has grown as the full implications of exposures by significant groups in the workforce have come to be understood. It is therefore fair to say that asbestos as a workplace health hazard was not fully understood in New Zealand until the late 1970s or 1980s after significant court cases here and in Australia, and a ministerial inquiry in Relevant overseas developments Australia Australia has banned all asbestos-containing material being imported into the country. The Federal Government introduced prohibitions, effective from December 2003, on all imports, exports, and new uses of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. The ban does not apply to: chrysotile asbestos in situ at the time the ban took effect bona fide research or analysis removal or disposal by a licensed operator where it is encountered during non-asbestos mining or quarrying; or display of an item in a museum or for historical display. There were limited exceptions aimed at allowing time to find or validate alternatives, all of which expired at the end of 2007 or earlier. The national Exposure Standard for Chrysotile was reduced from 1 fibre/ml to 0.1 fibre/ml over an eight-hour period by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC). The Standard for chrysotile is now in line with the standards for other forms of asbestos. The Australian Customs Service has implemented measures to ensure there is no importation into Australia of asbestos-containing materials. There are some limited exemptions, which can be issued in certain circumstances by a State or Territory, work health and safety regulator or the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. For example, in South Australia, importers who wish to import asbestos exempt products must notify the regulator and complete a Customs Confirmation form. Not all states have yet adopted the Australian model regulations, but all jurisdictions place controls on work with in situ asbestos. In most states and territories the legislation is focused on workplaces. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has legislation covering residential sale of property. 2 P a g e

3 European Union and United Kingdom In the European Union, the placing on the market and use of all forms of asbestos and products containing asbestos fibres was prohibited from January In the United Kingdom, the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 came into force in November 2006, bringing together the three previous sets of regulations covering the prohibition of asbestos, the control of asbestos at work and asbestos licensing. The importation, supply and new use of all forms of asbestos are prohibited in the UK (amphiboles since 1985 and serpentines since 1999). If existing asbestos-containing materials are in good condition, they may be left in place with their condition monitored and managed. The UK regulations specify the work methods and controls that should be used to prevent exposure and spread. Where it is not reasonably practicable to prevent exposure, employers and the selfemployed must ensure the exposure is kept as low as possible by measures other than just the use of respiratory protective equipment. The UK regulations set a single Control Limit (airborne exposure limit), averaged over any continuous 4-hour period, for all types of asbestos of 0.1 fibres per cm 3. There is an additional short-term exposure limit of 0.6 fibres per cm 3 averaged over any continuous 10-minute period using respiratory protective equipment if exposure cannot be reduced sufficiently using other means. The UK regulations require mandatory training for anyone liable to be exposed to asbestos fibres at work e.g. maintenance workers, cable installers. Most asbestos removal work must be undertaken by a licensed contractor. Exemptions include if exposure is below the Control Limit, the work is short and non-continuous, and if the asbestos is encapsulated, sealed and in good condition. Anyone carrying out work on asbestos insulation, asbestos coating or asbestos insulation board needs a licence issued by the Health and Safety Executive. Additional duties include notifying the enforcing authority, preparing specific asbestos emergency procedures and paying for employees to undergo medical surveillance. In order to be granted an asbestos licence, applicants must satisfy the Health and Safety Executive that they have adequate knowledge, organisation and arrangements to carry out the work safely without detriment to the health of their employees or others. Performance will be monitored and reviewed via field operation reports. The current fee for an asbestos licence in the UK is 3,236 and it requires annual renewal for the same fee (The Health and Safety Executive is required to recover the full costs incurred in regulating permissioning regimes such as asbestos licensing). The UK regulations also include a duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises. The duty to manage is directed at those who own or manage workplaces (as specified by contract or tenancy agreement), the people with responsibility for protecting others who work in such premises, or use them in other ways, from the risks to ill-health from exposure to asbestos. The duties to manage include: taking reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in the premises. If in doubt, materials must be presumed to contain asbestos keeping an up-to-date record of the location and condition of the asbestos-containing materials assessing the risk of anyone being exposed to asbestos fibres and making a plan to manage the risk; and providing information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them. 3 P a g e

4 International International approaches have so far failed to achieve a complete ban on the mining, export and use of asbestos. However, use and trade has been significantly influenced by two major factors: the adoption of partial or total legislative bans on asbestos by 54 countries, and the progressive reduction of asbestos mining by Canada (which has gone from being the world s largest producer in 1977 to not producing any asbestos in Annual global production of asbestos has been estimated at 2 million tonnes in 2012, which is less than half the peak world production reached in 1977 (4.8 million tonnes). Although the use of asbestos is still allowed in many countries, in 2012 its consumption was concentrated in China and India, which together consumed more than half the world s production (530,000 and 490,000 tonnes respectively). Russia has replaced Canada as the leading producer and exporter of asbestos. There have been sustained and consistent approaches to reach multilateral agreement on the banning of asbestos, and these continue. The Strategic Approaches to International Chemical Management (SAICM), co-ordinated by the United Nations Environmental Program, included a concrete goal of a working towards a total ban on asbestos by The ban was not achieved and subsequent work by SAICM has focused on mitigation of the effects of asbestos. The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade has voted on proposals to extend the current coverage of 5 forms of raw asbestos to include the 6th, chrysotile, based on the prohibitions in the EU and in Chile. The World Customs Organisation (WCO) introduced some limited differentiation in tariff codes between asbestos and non-asbestos-containing products in January 2007, as part of general moves to facilitate the monitoring and control of hazardous products such as those containing asbestos. International Labour Organisation The 95th annual Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in June 2006 adopted a series of standards and measures addressing health and safety of workers. The Conference adopted a Resolution concerning exposure to asbestos which causes in excess of 100,000 deaths worldwide per year. The Resolution recognises that the elimination of the future use of asbestos and the identification and proper management of asbestos currently in place are the most effective means to protect workers from asbestos exposure and to prevent future asbestos-related diseases and deaths. It also resolves that the ILO's Asbestos Convention 1986 (No. 162) should not be used to provide a justification for, or endorsement of, the continued use of asbestos. The New Zealand Government supported the adoption of an amended Resolution promoting the elimination of asbestos as an appropriate aspirational statement, but note that work on this issue will need to be prioritised in the context of the ILO s overall strategic prioritisation. Any allocation of financial resources will need to be considered as part of the Programme and Budget discussions of the Governing Body. The toll in NZ Epidemiological studies in New Zealand and Australia have indicated a broad correlation between the incidence of the different types of asbestos disease, meaning that where accurate numbers are available for one disease type, the incidence of other types can be inferred with reasonable accuracy. This is important in a New Zealand context where, although an asbestos disease register is 4 P a g e

5 maintained, it is on a voluntary basis and provides incomplete data, while the New Zealand Cancer Registry provides comprehensive data on the incidence of mesothelioma in the total population. The studies suggest for each reported case of mesothelioma there are between 1 and 2 cases of asbestosis and approximately half as many cases of lung cancer. In the years up to 2010, the most recent available, there has consistently been between 90 and 100 reported cases of mesothelioma recorded in the New Zealand Cancer Registry. Epidemiologists describe New Zealand as currently experiencing a second epidemic of asbestos disease, caused by exposures to asbestos in the years when asbestos was most used in New Zealand in the 1950s to 1970s. An earlier increase in disease involved the use of asbestos in thermal plant such as railway boilers, ship engine rooms and power stations from the 1920s, but affected smaller groups of workers. We conservatively estimate that 170 of the estimated 700 to 900 deaths from workplace disease in NZ in 2010 were due to asbestos exposure, making this the biggest cause of work-related mortality (MBIE, 2013: Work Related Disease in New Zealand: the State of Play in 2010). The epidemiological studies referred to above suggest that this is a conservative figure and that the number is likely to exceed 300 per annum while the exposure of the population sustained in the 1960s and 1970s takes effect. The equivalent figure in Australia has been estimated as approximately 600 cases of mesothelioma, equating to a total of as many as 2000 deaths related to exposure to asbestos. The first regulations on asbestos in New Zealand workplaces were passed in Imports of asbestos into New Zealand peaked in 1974, suggesting that workplace exposures didn t reduce significantly until into the 1980s. Because of the long lead-in time between exposure and mortality from exposure to asbestos, the more recent implementation of controls and regulation on the handling and management of asbestos in the workplace should mean that the current levels of mortality will drop in the future. The latency period between exposure and the development of health effects can vary depending on the disease, degree of exposure, and individual propensity. For each disease the mean latency period for the presenting disease is between 40 and 46 years, suggesting that most cases presenting today resulted from exposures during the late 1960s and 1970s, during the peak period of asbestos use in this country. There are two main sources of data on the occurrence of asbestos-related disease in New Zealand - the NZ Cancer Registry, maintained by the Ministry of Health, and the National Asbestos Registers now maintained by WorkSafe NZ. The National Asbestos Registers The National Asbestos Registers were established in March 1992 in response to recommendations made to the Minister of Labour by the Asbestos Advisory Committee. The registers comprise a disease register and an exposure register. Both registers are voluntary, with entry to the disease register overseen by a medical panel. The exposure register is based on self -referral by individuals who describe exposure to asbestos during their working lives and entry is not reviewed or assessed by medical practitioners or officials. The Asbestos Disease Register Notifications for the register come from two major sources. The first is from doctors whose patients have been diagnosed or are suspected of having an asbestos-related disease. The second source of notification is from individuals. Once a notification is made to the registrar and consent gained from the person concerned, relevant medical records and a full occupational history are obtained. Information recorded in the Disease Register underestimates the total burden of asbestos-related disease in New Zealand. This is a consequence of the voluntary nature of the register, lack of 5 P a g e

6 understanding of work as a factor in disease causation by the medical profession, and the Cancer Registry not coding occupation in their database. However, the register continues to provide valuable information to the medical profession and others on the incidence and prevalence of the different types of asbestos-related disease. Asbestos-related disease notifications The National Asbestos Medical Panel received 1299 asbestos-related disease notifications for the period March 1992 to July 2012, as follows. Notifications to asbestos disease register Disease Number of cases 6 P a g e Mean age at diagnosis Mean latency (years) Mesothelioma /15 Lung cancer /2 Asbestosis /16 Pleural abnormalities /10 Male/female 62 percent of these cases occurred in the two occupational categories of carpenters/builders and plumbers/fitters/laggers etc. Asbestos processors and asbestos sprayers accounted for 12 percent of cases, electricians 7.5 percent, waterside workers for 6.5 percent, and friction products for 1 percent. Two percent of cases were non-occupational or no known exposure. The majority of cases were Caucasian and male. The mean age at diagnosis was between 67 and 69, depending on the disease. The mean latency (number of years since first exposure) was between 43 and 46 years. The following descriptions of asbestos-related disease in New Zealand are taken from the most recent report of the Asbestos Disease Register. Pleural plaques One of the aims of the medical panel was to confirm the view that pleural plaques were not just a marker of exposure, but represented a disease state. The Department of Labour publication Lung Function Changes in Asbestos Exposed Workers with Pleural Abnormalities (2000) indicated a clear dose response pattern, including a reduction of lung function with increasing asbestos exposure, independent of smoking habit. Two cases of pleural plaques notified in recent years involve women developing widespread plaques in their early 70s. Their only exposure was to asbestos dust brought home on their husbands clothes, which they washed. In one case the husband was an asbestos sprayer, the other, a carpenter. Asbestosis The increasing use of High Resolution Computed Tonography (HRCT) has resulted in the identification of minor degrees of asbestosis often with few, if any, symptoms and no disability. It is possible that these individuals will have a better long-term outlook, although this is not yet established. Lung cancer The contribution of occupational asbestos exposure to the causation of lung cancer is well recognised as being underestimated, and over-attributed to smoking among workers exposed to asbestos. One approach to this issue is to determine the ratio between mesothelioma and lung cancer on the grounds that most mesotheliomas are diagnosed and the majority are regarded as

7 being caused by asbestos exposure at work. Various estimates of such a ratio have been suggested and can range from 1 to 10. Even if the lower ratio of 1:2 is taken based on the mesothelioma cases diagnosed over , for example some 2,382 cases of lung cancer due to asbestos exposure would have occurred, or approximately 148 a year. It is likely that this figure is higher. Mesothelioma Reported cases of mesothelioma have continued to rise in New Zealand over the past decade, as described below, and based on the New Zealand Cancer Registry. The mean exposure index for mesothelioma of as recorded by the panel - is similar to exposure indices for pleural plaques (162), lung cancer (165) and asbestosis (180), suggesting that mesothelioma, like other asbestosrelated conditions, is generally dose-dependent. Chronic Obstruction Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) and asbestos exposure These conditions are now being recorded if present in individuals with an asbestos-related disease, as well as in those asbestos-exposed workers who have no confirmed asbestos-related lung or pleural disease. Over the past years 33% of the 85 cases of asbestos-related disease also had COPD, 40% among cases of pleural plaques, 45% among asbestosis cases, 80% among lung cancer cases and 0% among cases of mesothelioma. In addition, ten cases that were referred to the Panel because of asbestos exposure but without classical asbestos-related conditions had COPD. The National Cancer Registry The National Cancer Registry contains comprehensive data on all forms of cancer in the New Zealand population, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. Because of the clear link to asbestos with mesothelioma, it provides definitive data from which the incidence of other asbestos-related diseases may be inferred. National cancer figures for mesothelioma Over the period from 1954 to 2010, a total of 1,618 cases of mesothelioma have been registered in New Zealand. The total number of cases continued to rise until it peaked in 2005 at 103. The number of cases recorded has remained in the 90s over recent years. Diagnoses of mesothelioma entered on the National Cancer Register Year P a g e Number Mesothelioma is very much a disease of old age as the table below illustrates, with 49% of cases occurring to people aged 70 or over. Mesothelioma cases by age group (1994 to 2010 only)

8 Gender Age group Total < 50 50s 60s 70s 80s 90s Female Male Total Asbestos in New Zealand workplaces Asbestos is an international problem. The post-war years were the heyday of asbestos use in New Zealand and around the world. Each of the three main types of asbestos white, blue and brown were sprayed, and spread in what seemed to be an ever-increasing range of applications throughout industry, as part of machinery components, and, to a lesser extent, in homes. A United Kingdom report in the late 1970s estimated that about 3,000 manufactured products contained asbestos in one form or another. The same report said there were over 21,000 people in the United Kingdom alone employed in the manufacturing of products which contained some degree of asbestos, and about the same number employed in processes which were subject to the asbestos regulations of the time. Similar claims could be made with regard to asbestos use in developing nations today. Asbestos is therefore ubiquitous in the built environment due to its prevalent use and subsequent degradation. Historical use in New Zealand Until just before the Second World War, asbestos only found its way into New Zealand in the form of manufactured items. Since that time, the only asbestos-containing products that have been manufactured in any quantity in this country have been asbestos cement building materials such as roofing and wall claddings, pipes and other moulded products. There have been two plants producing asbestos cement products. The first was established in 1938 at Penrose in Auckland by the Australian company James Hardie Ltd. A second factory, operated by the local company Fletcher Construction, was established in the Christchurch suburb of Riccarton in Depending on the item being manufactured, they were made of a mixture of Portland cement, sand, and usually between 5 and 15 percent of a combination of white, brown or blue asbestos - the asbestos acting as reinforcing because of its fibrous nature and its high tensile strength. The types of asbestos used varied. The predominant fibre type was white chrysotile, which was cheaper and more easily worked. Because the best blue crocidolite from South Africa was more expensive, it tended to be used only in products requiring greater heat tolerance or strength (such as in pipes expected to contain higher pressures or temperatures). A lesser quality crocidolite from the Wittenoom mine in Western Australia was also used to some extent. Amosite, or brown asbestos, was imported from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and was only ever used in small quantities. The Auckland plant produced asbestos cement products until 1987, although from 1983 asbestos had been phased out of sheet products and was included only in pipes. At peak production in the mid-1970s the Penrose plant employed up to 600 employees at any one time. The Christchurch plant, called Durock Industries, operated until Estimates of the numbers employed over the life of the factory vary between 900 and 2000 and are confused by the fact that large numbers of casual workers were employed. Another major use of asbestos was as insulation. This saw the various types of asbestos mixed with a binder and sprayed around boilers, pipes, ducts and other places where insulation against heat or sometimes noise was needed. From the 1950s until the 1970s thousands of tonnes of asbestos were applied in this way, most notably in the power stations built in the period, but also in railway 8 P a g e

9 workshops, shipbuilding and maintenance and other large-scale industrial applications. Sprayed asbestos was also used extensively as a fire retardant for protecting structural steelwork. Usually the insulation material was applied by contractors who mixed asbestos from the bags or sacks it had been imported in, before spraying the mixture on to chicken wire reinforcing. Other workplaces where asbestos was used included railway workshops, boiler rooms, and in most of the country s major industrial complexes where insulation against heat was required. Some of the industrial applications were less obvious. For example, asbestos was commonly used in the brewing industry to filter beer from the 1920s until the early 1970s, and it was dropped into wine to act as finings and clarify the finished product. Another unusual use for blue asbestos was as a filtering component in gas masks of British manufacture that were standard issue for troops and others from the first World War until after the Second World War. An inner core of asbestos was surrounded by woollen wadding, and the item was standard issue to all New Zealand troops in danger of gas attack. Before the Second World War, asbestos was not imported in its raw state in sufficient quantities to appear in the import statistics. With the beginnings of local manufacturing and the increase in postwar construction, more than 2,000 tonnes were being imported annually by the late 1940s. This continued throughout the 1950s with peaks of up to 5,000 tonnes in some years. Usage increased dramatically during the 1960s and until well into the 1970s with 5,000 tonnes being the minimum amount imported through those years, and the average being closer to 8,000 tonnes. Imported asbestos peaked in 1975 at 12,500 tonnes, although as recently as 1983, 3,000 tonnes were imported. The importation of blue and brown asbestos in its raw friable state has been banned since 1984 and of white asbestos since There is currently no ban on the importation of asbestos-containing materials. Mining for asbestos in New Zealand Throughout the 40 years asbestos was imported in large quantities, about two-thirds of the amount imported was chrysotile from Canada, with the balance being made up of different types from Australia, South Africa or, to a lesser extent, the United States. Asbestos was only ever mined in small quantities locally, as chrysotile from a single mine near Takaka from the early 1950s until the early 1960s. It was of a low quality and had to be mixed with the imported material. In the late 1960s significant deposits were surveyed near Dusky Sound, Fiordland, but for various reasons these were never exploited. Current occurrence of asbestos in New Zealand By the 1960s many new buildings and much industrial plant in New Zealand contained asbestos in various forms (e.g. roof tiles, cladding, insulation, textured ceilings, vinyl flooring, fibrolite cement, etc.). White asbestos is the variety most commonly used in construction. From the 1970s the use of asbestos began to drop so that virtually none is used in new building now. This trend can be linked to efforts in a number of other developed countries to eliminate asbestos from many products. Despite this trend, much asbestos remains in use in mid-20th century buildings and equipment. In most common uses when intact and covered, asbestos is harmless unless disturbed or broken up, at which point the fibres are released into the air and can subsequently be inhaled. This has been highlighted as a potentially significant issue during the demolition and construction of buildings during the Canterbury rebuild from the earthquakes of 2010 and An exception to this is asbestos contained in decorative sprayed coatings (such as the textured ceiling and wall coatings popular in the 1970s) which can shed fibres under normal conditions, making this use more hazardous than some others, even without disturbance. The majority of current exposure relates to: 9 P a g e

10 managing asbestos-containing building materials and materials that contain asbestos from past use, including maintenance work or removal of these products; and maintenance of other types of products containing asbestos (such as brake pads). The first category affects building maintenance workers (plumbers, electricians, computer installers, telecommunication engineers etc.), demolition workers, floor sanders, and asbestos removal workers. The exposure level is variable but can be high and over multiple events, particularly in confined spaces. It is generally accepted that asbestos in situ causes no concern as long as the material is stable, protected (including encapsulation where necessary) and handled correctly. Exposure occurs when the material becomes uncovered, weathered or is worked on (particularly mechanically), removed or disposed of. The risk of exposure obviously becomes greater with time and when handled incorrectly. An example of the second type of exposure can be found in garages when brakes are replaced or when work is carried out on wheels, where fibres that have been displaced by use of the brakes are disturbed. The work may be intermittent, and the exposure level may be long-term but low. There is anecdotal evidence that the use of new or used asbestos products is low and in decline because of the availability of alternative materials and prohibitions in similar countries. However, there is no current means of calculating exactly how large the use of asbestos-containing material is in New Zealand. Public concern over ambient levels of asbestos in the air is due to the increased awareness that occupational exposure to asbestos causes serious health problems. However, available data and comparative risk assessments indicate that the risk from short term, low levels of exposure to asbestos fibres in a non-occupational environment is low. In addition to these two categories of exposure, in an outdoor environment non-occupational exposure may be due to activities releasing asbestos into the neighbourhood, such as a vehicle braking. This form of exposure is usually extremely low. In an indoor setting, asbestos-containing materials such as decorative coatings and acoustic or thermal insulation become vulnerable to damage during building maintenance, such as DIY, vandalism, or accidental damage including fire. This form of exposure is variable but also tends to be low. The 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes The earthquakes in Canterbury in September 2010 and February 2011 resulted in the death of 185 people and caused widespread damage across Christchurch, particularly the central city and eastern suburbs. The devastation wrought by these earthquakes and multiple aftershocks has given rise to the extraordinary increase in demolition and rebuilding that will continue for some time. Occupations most at risk of exposure to asbestos are demolition workers and people involved in building renovation. WorkSafe NZ is working with the construction industry to ensure exposure risks are minimised and is monitoring reporting of restricted work and the asbestos exposure register. These are two key indicators that WorkSafe NZ uses to inform its operational programmes. The Asbestos Exposure Register described earlier exists to allow individuals who have been exposed to asbestos to register. The decision to register is an individual and voluntary decision. Nevertheless, trends in exposure registrations can indicate the presence of possible exposure risks. Asbestos exposure registrations for Christchurch indicate that demolition has caused some concern among the workforce. 10 P a g e

11 Date January to December January to December January to December Number of registrations Notifications to MBIE (now WorkSafe NZ) of restricted work involving asbestos from 1 July 2012 to May 2013 indicate a correspondingly high level of asbestos-related work in Christchurch. Region Auckland 48 (approx.) Wellington 40 (approx.) Christchurch 560 Number of notifications Current work practices with an elevated risk of exposure to asbestos The literature concerning asbestos disease in New Zealand refers to two periods of increase in asbestos disease, the first among people exposed to asbestos insulation used in thermal plant and large engines from the 1920s, and a second among those exposed to a broader range of building materials, insulation and manufactured products as asbestos became more widely used from the 1950s until the mid-1980s. A recent report of the Asbestos Disease Panel described the potential for a future increase in disease among, or a third epidemic among the following occupations in New Zealand. Floor sanders An audit of floor sanders and their working practices carried out in Christchurch in 1992 revealed poor work practices that were endangering workers and others. The study suggested the practices were common and had continued for some time. Although the regulator took steps to improve practices, the study suggested a future at risk group. Overseas studies confirmed the New Zealand experience, with high levels of asbestos dust measured in rooms during the sanding process. Asbestos removal workers This group of workers was very active in the late 1980s and the 1990s. Although the then Department of Labour published Guidelines for the Management and Removal of Asbestos, it is likely that a proportion of such workers would have been exposed to significant amounts of asbestos for short- or long-term periods and some would have transported asbestos dust from work to home on their clothes, boots or body. The Asbestos Exposure Register does not identify this group specifically, yet they could well be significantly affected by asbestos disease in the decades ahead. The Australian model regulations contain stricter controls on and licensing of asbestos removal work. Brake lining repair workers Today some brake linings sold in New Zealand still contain asbestos. Work with brake linings is often carried out in designated small workplaces, which are less likely to be inspected and more likely to have inadequate local exhaust ventilation. The work is intermittent and the dose may be long-term and low-level, in contrast to demolition workers where it can be high-level and short-term. Nevertheless these workers comprise an ongoing at-risk group. Building maintenance workers This group of workers includes electricians, plumbers, cable installers, telecommunications engineers and carpenters. The United Kingdom s Health and Safety Executive has published two related guidance booklets. One, Introduction to Asbestos Essentials, is specifically aimed at building 11 P a g e

12 maintenance workers. The other, Asbestos Essentials Task Manual, is aimed at any worker who may come into contact with asbestos in the course of their work. Demolition workers The process of demolition is often carried out over a weekend using casual labour. The presence of asbestos is not necessarily determined prior to the demolition, and as a consequence no knowledge of exposure occurs. The Australian model regulations pay particular attention to the need to properly identify and assess asbestos hazards in demolition and refurbishment work, and impose duties and processes on both the person managing or controlling the workplace that commissions the demolition, and the PCBU carrying out the work. Current regulations for the control of importation of asbestos and asbestos-containing products Raw asbestos The importation into New Zealand of three forms of raw asbestos fibre, amosite, crocidolite and chrysotile, was prohibited by a succession of temporary Customs Import Prohibition Orders from 1984 for the first two forms, and from 1999 for chrysotile. The most recent CIPO expired in September 2008, when it was effectively replaced by the approval process under the HSNO Act. All six forms of raw asbestos are unapproved hazardous substances under the HSNO Act. Anyone wishing to import, manufacture or mine raw asbestos must apply to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for approval. It is unlikely that approval would be given. Anyone may apply for approval, but the cost and uncertainty of getting it are likely to provide a barrier. Should an application be successful, raw asbestos would be allowed to be imported, manufactured or mined with controls to prevent or manage the adverse effects. In the unlikely event of an approval to import, manufacture or mine being sought and obtained under the HSNO Act for raw asbestos, various controls might apply that cover the lifecycle of asbestos (as raw asbestos), including disposal, as well as identification, approved handlers (competency), exposure levels etc. Asbestos-containing products There is no ban on the importation, supply, use, or re-use of asbestos-containing products in New Zealand. The Building Code has no prohibitions on the use and re-use of asbestos building materials: asbestos or materials containing asbestos are acceptable when the asbestos is bonded in a matrix, or encapsulated with an appropriate coating to ensure that no free particles can escape. There is anecdotal evidence that only very low levels of asbestos-containing products are being imported into New Zealand, mainly brake lining pads and some building products such as floor tiles, due to the Australian ban of exportation. If there was a ban on using and re-using asbestoscontaining products, there would, in principle, not need to be a ban on importation. However, in practice, a ban on importation would avoid instances where asbestos containing materials are supplied to the workplace. Currently, within the New Zealand Customs tariff structure there is no separation between similar products (e.g. brake lining products or cement products) on the basis of whether they contain asbestos or not. The New Zealand Customs Service is unable to easily differentiate at the border between articles that do or do not contain asbestos. Data is not available on the volume of asbestoscontaining products being imported into New Zealand. Historically, most of the brake lining products used in New Zealand were imported from Australia. The Australian ban from December 2003 on the manufacture and export of asbestos-containing products resulted in a decline in the use of asbestos-containing articles here. 12 P a g e

13 The asbestos chapter of the discussion document proposes the adoption of the Australian model regulations for asbestos. This would effectively ban the use and reuse of asbestos in buildings, although there may be further, yet to be explored, scope to amend the Building Code to ban the use of asbestos-containing products in buildings. Although the new regulations will be able to prohibit work involving asbestos, they will not be able to ban the importation of asbestos or asbestos-containing materials in the way that Australia has. It is beyond the scope of the new regulations to ban the importation of asbestos or asbestoscontaining materials, although the issue is very relevant to the working of the new regulations. Because the imposition of a ban on importation would underpin the proposed regulations by preventing asbestos from entering workplaces, we support further interagency work to consider a prohibition on the importation of asbestos-containing products into New Zealand, and, if so the best regulatory mechanism to achieve this. This will involve consultation between MBIE, WorkSafe NZ, Customs, the EPA and the Ministry for the Environment. Asbestos regulations comparison table The following table provides a side-by-side comparison of the Australian and NZ regulations for work involving asbestos, for reference. Australia Model Work Health and Safety Regulations Part 8 Australian Model Regulations (AMR) Part 8.1 Prohibitions and Authorised Conduct 419 (1) A person conducting a business or undertaking must not carry out, or direct or allow a worker to carry out, work involving asbestos. Work involves asbestos if the work involves manufacturing, supplying, transporting, storing, removing, using, installing, handling, treating, disposing of or disturbing asbestos or ACM. [419 (2)]. Some forms of work involving asbestos e.g. genuine research and analysis; removal or disposal of asbestos are exempt from this ban [see 419 (3)] Part 8.2 General Duty 420 Exposure to airborne asbestos at workplace A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure that: exposure of a person at the workplace to airborne asbestos is eliminated so far as is reasonably practicable; and the exposure standard for asbestos is not exceeded at the workplace. Note: exemptions apply in relation to an asbestos removal area Exposure standard: 0.1 fibres per millilitre of air over an 8 hour time-weighted average (TWA); No distinction is made between types of asbestos Part 8.3 Management of Asbestos and Associated Risks There is a mandatory process for identifying, recording, New Zealand Health and Safety in Employment (Asbestos) Regulations 1998 (HSE) There are currently no prohibitions on work involving asbestos but rather: Part 1 Duties of employers in relation to all work involving asbestos; Part 2 Duties of employers in relation to restricted work Part 3 Certificate of competence Part 4 Duties of manufacturers and suppliers Part 1 Duties of employers in relation to all work involving asbestos 7 Dust control measures Every employer controlling a place of work at which employees carry out work involving asbestos must take all practicable steps to ensure that the release of asbestos fibres into the air is suppressed. If this is not possible every employer must take practicable steps to ensure protective clothing is worn, and protective equipment issued, to employees working with asbestos. Exposure standard: Schedule 1(2) sets out concentration levels that cannot be exceeded. These concentration levels differ depending on the type of asbestos (much higher thresholds than Australia) Part 1 Duties of employers in relation to all work involving asbestos 13 P a g e

14 Australia Model Work Health and Safety Regulations Part 8 Australian Model Regulations (AMR) and managing the risks associated with asbestos (this includes both friable and non-friable asbestos and ACM) Duties are placed on all persons who have management or control of a workplace. 422 Asbestos to be identified or assumed at workplace (1) A person with management or control of a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that all asbestos or ACM at the workplace is identified by a competent person. Subsequent to this are duties placed on PCBUs who manage or control a workplace regarding: 423 Analysis of sample 424 Presence and location of asbestos to be indicated 425 Asbestos register a document recording all identified (or assumed) asbestos in a workplace 426 Review of asbestos register 427 Access to asbestos register 428 Transfer of asbestos register by person relinquishing management or control 429 Asbestos management plan where asbestos or ACM is identified at a workplace, a written plan must be prepared 430 Review of asbestos management plan Part 8.4 Management of Naturally Occurring Asbestos 431 Naturally occurring asbestos The management of risks associated with naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) at the workplace is particularly relevant to road building, site and construction work, and other excavation activities. The following regulations apply to workplaces where NOA has been identified 432 Asbestos management plan prepared in relation to NOA 433 Review of asbestos management plan 434 Training in relation to naturally occurring asbestos 8.5 Asbestos at the Workplace Division 1 Health Monitoring A person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure (and pay for) the provision of health monitoring to a worker if the worker is carrying out licensed asbestos removal work, other ongoing asbestos removal work, or asbestos-related work, and is at risk of exposure to asbestos when carrying out the work. New Zealand Health and Safety in Employment (Asbestos) Regulations 1998 (HSE) There is a mandatory process for identifying and managing the risks associated with asbestos (this includes only friable asbestos) These duties apply to every place of work under the control of an employer at which employees carry out work involving asbestos Testing for identification of asbestos 5 Approved laboratory to specify testing method Protection from exposure to asbestos dust 6 Warning notices 7 Dust control measures 8 Adequate and suitable storage Cleanliness 9 Maintaining cleanliness 10 Laundering of contaminated clothing Storage, distribution, and disposal of asbestos 11 Storage of asbestos 12 Distribution of asbestos 13 Disposal of asbestos waste Maintenance of equipment 14 Maintenance of protective clothing and equipment 15 Maintenance of dust control equipment 16 Maintenance of cleaning equipment N/A Health Monitoring N/A Training Workers carrying out work involving asbestos are not required to undergo any specific training; however they must hold a certificate of competence (or be working under the direct supervision of a person who holds such a certificate). 14 P a g e

15 Australia Model Work Health and Safety Regulations Part 8 Australian Model Regulations (AMR) Division 2 Training A person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure that workers whom the person reasonably believes may be involved in asbestos removal work or in the carrying out of asbestos-related work, are trained in the identification and safe handling of, and suitable control measures for, asbestos and ACM. Training records must be kept for 5 years after the worker stops carrying out the work and must be available for inspection by the regulator. Division 3 Control on use of certain equipment A person conducting a business or undertaking must not use, or direct or allow a worker to use, specific equipment on asbestos or ACM unless the use of the equipment is controlled. E.g. equipment or tools that may release airborne asbestos can only be used if it is enclosed, designed to (and used in a way that will) capture or suppress airborne asbestos safety. 8.6 Demolition and Refurbishment A person with management or control of a workplace and any other PCBU carrying out demolition or refurbishment work (of a structure or plant) must follow a process to identify and manage asbestos related risks associated with the work. Duties, prior to the demolition or refurbishment work being carried out, cover: 448 Review of asbestos register 449 Duty to give asbestos register to person conducting business or undertaking of demolition or refurbishment 450 Duty to obtain asbestos register 451 Determining presence of asbestos or ACM 452 Identification and removal of asbestos before demolition 453 Identification and removal of asbestos before demolition of residential premises 454 Emergency procedure 455 Emergency procedure residential premises 456 Identification and removal of asbestos before refurbishment 457 Refurbishment of residential premises 8.7 Asbestos Removal Work 458 Duty to ensure asbestos removalist is licensed A duty is placed on PCBUs who commission the removal of asbestos to ensure that the asbestos removalist is licensed to carry out the work; further details procedural and outcome requirements for asbestos removal work. This includes requirements for licensed asbestos removalists to: New Zealand Health and Safety in Employment (Asbestos) Regulations 1998 (HSE) Part 3 Certificates of competence Application, issue, renewal, cancellation, and suspension 23 Requirements of applicants aims to achieve similar ends to the training obligations under AMR: Applicants must have a thorough knowledge of the hazards associated with restricted work and of the work practices to be followed in undertaking restricted work, be physically and mentally able to perform every task that it is reasonable to expect the holder of a certificate to perform, and be of good character and reputation. Control on use of certain equipment NZ has taken more of a downstream regulatory approach to avoid the generation of asbestos dust (i.e. 7 Dust control measures), with the intention that this will achieve the same ends as AMR s more upstream approach. N/A N/A 15 P a g e

16 Australia Model Work Health and Safety Regulations Part 8 Australian Model Regulations (AMR) New Zealand Health and Safety in Employment (Asbestos) Regulations 1998 (HSE) appoint an asbestos removal supervisor for Class A and a suitable competent person for Class B work train removal workers for specific types of work, with records kept of training access to the asbestos register for the workplace prepare and maintain an asbestos removal control plan for the work and keep it available notify the regulator of the removal work inform the person with management or control of the workplace, or the occupier, owner other others connected with residential premises of the work and when it will be completed provide signage and information to specified person maintain decontamination facilities and ensure disposal of the asbestos removed obtain a clearance inspection and certificate from a licensed assessor or competent person Licenses distinguish between class A (the most hazardous removal work, involving friable asbestos and asbestos containing dust) and class B asbestos removal work (all other asbestos removal work); removalists must hold the appropriate license (see 8.8 below) 8.8 Asbestos Removal Requiring Class A License 475 Air monitoring asbestos removal requiring Class A licence The person with management or control of a workplace where the asbestos removal work is being carried out must ensure that an independent licensed assessor undertakes air monitoring of the asbestos removal area (the membrane filter method of monitoring must be used) 476 Action if respirable asbestos fibre level too high 477 Removing friable asbestos 8.9 Asbestos-related Work This is work involving asbestos to which 8.7 (asbestos removal work) does not apply and is permitted under the exemptions set out in regulation 419(3), (4) and (5). This includes unusual cases, such as the transport of asbestos clad timber framed houses, or treatment of existing insulation products in certain circumstances. Minimum standards for asbestos-related work are set out. This includes duties placed on the PCBU 8.10 Licensing of Asbestos Removalists and Assessors Part 3 Certificates of competence N/A 19(2) A certificate of competence as an asbestos worker who may undertake restricted work authorises the holder to participate in a category of restricted work specified in the certificate. 16 P a g e

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