Managing asbestos in schools
This guidance provides schools with processes, resources and regulations for dealing with asbestos.
|Level of compliance||Main audience||Other|
The Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 places a requirement on a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), such as Boards and Principals, to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that all asbestos in schools is identified and if so, any risks arising from the asbestos are managed to eliminate or minimise exposure.
- Critical information for schools
- Day-to-day management requirements
- Refurbishment, demolition and excavation project requirements
- Paying for asbestos management
- Further information
According to WorkSafe New Zealand, buildings constructed before 1 January 2000 are likely to contain asbestos or asbestos-containing material (ACM). This means that a large amount of Ministry infrastructure was built during the period when asbestos was used in construction. Asbestos and ACM can pose a serious health risk if disturbed, as airborne fibres can be released and inhaled.
Where asbestos is left in place and is in good condition, it does not pose a significant health and safety risk. However, if it is disturbed during refurbishment, demolition, excavation, or due to deterioration, there is a risk of asbestos fibres becoming airborne and causing potential health problems for anyone who may inhale the particles. Asbestos is a proven human carcinogen, all forms of asbestos can cause cancer.
All asbestos can be classified according to two distinct categories, Friable and Non-Friable, which are based on the condition of the material.
- Friable – Asbestos that’s in a powder form or able to be crumbled, pulverised, or reduced to a powder by hand pressure when dry. While all asbestos has the potential to become airborne, friable is more likely to become airborne.
- Non-Friable – Asbestos that’s not in a powder form or cannot be crumbled, pulverised, or reduced to a powder by hand pressure when dry. It is usually in a bonded form, such as asbestos cement sheet in good condition.
(Asbestos removal | Worksafe)
We have provided helpful web resources and downloadable templates for schools to use that can be found at the end of this guidance.
The Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 place a requirement on a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), such as schools, to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that all asbestos in schools is identified and if so, any risks arising from the asbestos are managed to eliminate or minimise exposure.
As the PCBU in control of the workplace (school), Boards, Proprietors and School Principals have a responsibility for managing asbestos in their schools.
The following steps should be followed by schools on a day-to-day basis. Identifying any potential asbestos is the first step to managing exposure risk.
- Identify if asbestos is present
- Create an asbestos management plan
- Record any risks in your hazard and risk register
- Communicate asbestos information
- Monitor the condition of the asbestos.
|Identify any asbestos risk||
Is your building built prior to 1 January 2000? If yes, it is likely to contain asbestos and you could assume that your school building could be exposed to risk.
How to help identify risks in your school:
|Create an asbestos management plan||
If you, or a surveyor identify or assume the presence of asbestos in your school, an asbestos management plan(external link) is required.
Management plans must:
Download the Worksafe template:
|Record asbestos risks in your hazard and risk register||
Proactively manage any risks by using your hazard assessment register. Ensure the information is maintained and updated.
|Communicate asbestos information||Ensure all asbestos information, including the asbestos management plan and hazard register, is accessible to staff and provided to all contractors undertaking work at your school.|
|Monitor the condition of asbestos||You should schedule regular inspections of asbestos or ACM and record any changes to the condition in your asbestos management plan.|
The Ministry’s asbestos management process is designed to ensure the safety of all people who may be affected by asbestos works, including pupils, teachers, contractors, visitors and neighbours. It reflects good practice and ensures compliance with the Regulations.
- Conduct an asbestos refurbishment or demolition survey
- Isolate the asbestos risk
- Removing the asbestos
- Communication and consultation
- Air monitoring
- Obtain a clearance certificate and update the risk register
This process should be followed by schools and Boards when managing asbestos hazards. They must also follow the Ministry requirements for asbestos removal(external link) steps.
Key to note
When undertaking any works which are likely to disturb or damage asbestos, such as demolition or refurbishment, work cannot begin until an asbestos refurbishment or demolition survey is completed.
For Ministry-run construction projects, Te Puna Hanganga, Matihiko | Infrastructure & Digital will work with the school to identify and manage the presence of asbestos before and during the project.
The cost of managing or removing asbestos safely is part of the project costs. If this causes a major overrun in the project’s budget, help may be available and you should speak to your property advisor.
The management process
|Conduct an asbestos refurbishment or demolition survey||
This is an intrusive inspection of the specific area that will be affected and will confirm whether asbestos or ACM is present.
When commissioning an asbestos survey, ensure that the correct type of survey is conducted.
The survey must be done by a licensed asbestos assessor:
Find the related Asbestos surveyor competencies(external link) on the WorkSafe website.
|Isolate the asbestos risks||
If asbestos is identified or assumed to be present, and the condition of the material may pose a risk to health in its current form or if it is disturbed as a result of work about to start, the work area should be isolated immediately and appropriate warning signage displayed until the risk has been effectively managed.
Asbestos removal work must be carried out by a licensed asbestos remover. They must prepare and deliver an asbestos removal control plan.
|Communication and consultation||
It is important to communicate to everyone who may be affected by the works.
Communications must clearly state:
|Air monitoring||Air monitoring is required on all school projects, no matter the size or class of removal, and must be carried out during the removal work.|
|Obtain a clearance certificate and update the risk register||
When any asbestos removal work is complete, you must ensure necessary clearances from an independent asbestos assessor are obtained before anyone not directly involved in the asbestos work can re-occupy the area.
You should also update the school’s asbestos information (both school and Ministry records), the hazard and risk register for the project site (if applicable), and the hazard and risk register for the school.
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