Find out about your general responsibilities relating to asbestos, such as the requirement to identify and manage it if it's present in your workplace.

Working with Asbestos

The Health and Safety (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 place restrictions on the work that can be done on asbestos and asbestos containing materials.

General responsibilities

Working with asbestos is prohibited by the Asbestos Regulations(external link), except for certain specified activities:

  • asbestos-related work
  • asbestos removal.

Your duties

As a PCBU you must ensure that your working environment is free of airborne asbestos fibres.

Responsibilities for identifying asbestos or ACM in the workplace

If a PCBU knows, or can reasonably expect that there is a risk of exposure to respirable asbestos fibres in their workplace, it must make sure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that all asbestos or asbestos containing material (ACM) is identified.

  • ACM – includes items such as concrete, window putty and stipple ceiling coatings.

If a workplace has more than one PCBU, all PCBUs must, so far as is practicable, consult, co-operate with and coordinate activities with one another to make sure they meet their legal duties. An example of this is a tenant in a commercial building communicating with the building owner. 

Identifying asbestos

The first step in managing asbestos is to identify if it is present at your workplace, and there are a few ways you could choose to do this:

  • you could assume that your building or workplace contains asbestos, and write your plan accordingly
  • you could follow the guidance in the WorkSafe Approved Code of Practice
  • you could choose to get your staff trained to recognise potential asbestos 
  • you can employ a surveyor to assess your building and produce your plan. 

Note: If your building was built prior to 1 January 2000 it is more likely to contain asbestos-containing material.

You must use an IANZ accredited laboratory to test samples to determine the presence of asbestos or asbestos-containing materials at your worksite.

Read our factsheets on where asbestos may be found:

Managing asbestos risks

For those PCBUs that manage a workplace where asbestos has been identified there is a duty to develop an asbestos management plan by 4 April 2018.

Check out our handy guide on asbestos management plans to find out more. 

Once the plan has been developed, you must make sure that a copy of the plan for the workplace is available to:

  • a worker (or their representative) who has carried out, or intends to carry out work at the workplace, and
  • a PCBU that has required, or may require work to be carried out at the workplace – for example, a builder.

Review your plan

You must make sure that the plan is reviewed and, if necessary, revised if:

  • there is a review of a control measure
  • asbestos is removed from, or disturbed, sealed, or enclosed at, the workplace
  • the plan is no longer adequate for managing the asbestos or ACM risk at the workplace
  • a representative requests a review as detailed below
  • five years have passed since the plan was last reviewed.

Getting work done

If you have asbestos in your workplace, then you have some specific duties should you wish to do construction work. The duties depend on the work that you are embarking on: