WorkSafe New Zealand says people planning summer DIY projects around their homes need to be aware of the risk of asbestos or they’re gambling with the health of themselves and their neighbourhood.
Last year WorkSafe received 488 asbestos related health and safety concerns nationwide, with an increase of health and safety concerns being reported in the Bay of Plenty since September.
“This increase in concerns being reported to WorkSafe is in-line with an increase in the number of home projects being carried out as people are perhaps putting money they’d set aside for overseas travel into houses instead,” says WorkSafe’s Principal Advisor Asbestos Rob Birse.
“Around 220 people in New Zealand die every year from asbestos-related disease. Checking for any possible asbestos should be front of mind before beginning work, and if you don’t know what you are looking for then request a professional do it for you.
“Asbestos can be present in a wide range of products including cladding, linoleum, textured ceilings, insulation, roofing materials and other products. People should be aware of the risk asbestos poses and definitely not trying to remove it themselves.
“Asbestos is relatively harmless while in a solid state, but if it’s disturbed or the materials containing asbestos are damaged, it can be released into the air and become a risk as people are exposed and inhale the asbestos fibres.
If you are looking at doing DIY or home improvements, check out the WorkSafe website for how to check for asbestos or engage a professional to identify it for you.
For where to find a local asbestos professional, take a look the Asbestos Licence Holder Register.
If you see activity of concern and you think someone might be working with asbestos without the appropriate controls, you can report it via 0800 030 040.
While WorkSafe can’t intervene in DIY projects, the Ministry of Health and Local Government can.