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No excuse for not knowing rules around asbestos
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No excuse for not knowing rules around asbestos

16 December 2015

Christchurch company Blakely Construction Limited has been fined a total of $45,000 for failing to properly identify and manage asbestos at a demolition site.

Blakely Construction was contracted to demolish buildings on Edgeware Road in Christchurch in March 2014. It engaged a specialist contractor to remove 140 “Super 6” roofing sheets, which contained asbestos. During that work the contractor identified further asbestos contamination on site and advised Blakely Construction.

Demolition work continued and when more Super 6 sheets were uncovered and accidently broken up Blakely Construction’s site manager instructed staff to “carry on working around the matter by pushing it aside”.

This pattern of behaviour – finding asbestos but continuing to work around it when it needed to be dealt with by asbestos specialists - continued over more than a week. Throughout the demolition the excavator moved around the site, potentially spreading further asbestos contamination. WorkSafe New Zealand received a complaint on March 31 2014 and issued a prohibition notice the same day.

Blakely Construction was convicted on two charges under sections 6 and 50(1)(a) and sections 16 and 50(1)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act. It was sentenced yesterday in the Christchurch District Court.

WorkSafe’s Deputy General Manager, Assessments, Jo Pugh says Blakely Construction needed to take the time to identify all asbestos containing materials before demolition work started so that they could be removed safely.

“What is more, once the company became aware of asbestos contamination it should have stopped work on site immediately and ensured that it was fully decontaminated before resuming work.

“There are clear rules around asbestos and as an experienced demolition contractor, Blakely Construction had no excuse for not meeting its obligations to its workers and those who may have been in the vicinity,” says Jo Pugh.

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