Any buildings and structures built before 2000 may have asbestos in them. Asbestos was used in a wide range of building materials, such as cladding, roofing, flooring, electrical components, and insulation material.

When homes and other buildings containing asbestos are damaged during floods, the asbestos-containing materials can become eroded, disturbed, broken, or friable. This can cause a health risk to homeowners, property owners, property managers, and the community.

When damaged asbestos-containing materials are wet, they are not as dangerous, but once dry they can cause a risk to health if fibres are released that can become airborne and be inhaled.

If the damaged structure is presumed to be asbestos containing, a licensed asbestos assessor or licensed asbestos removalist should also be contacted before reoccupation.

Businesses, including sole traders, are required to manage risks associated with asbestos exposure, including completing an asbestos management plan for all workplace buildings and structures built before 1 January 2000. An asbestos management plan sets out where any identified asbestos or asbestos-containing material is present, its condition, and how it will be managed.

Prioritising emergency work 

For asbestos licence holders, if there is emergency work that needs to be done, email your request through to asbestos@worksafe.govt.nz. In the subject line, include Cyclone Gabrielle – and this will get prioritised. 

Information for insurance companies and tradespeople

We are aware of some insurance companies making incorrect assumptions about the presence or absence of asbestos containing materials in buildings damaged as a result of the Auckland flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle.

All persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) are reminded that they should not assume absence of asbestos, nor should they be instructing others to ignore the risk of asbestos (unless they have reasonable grounds to believe that asbestos is not present).

Learn more in the documents below: