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Demolition and asbestos safety campaign underway

2 February 2006

Demolition and asbestos safety campaign underway

The Department of Labour is visiting workplaces undertaking demolition and asbestos removal work as part of a joint campaign with Australia to improve safety for workers, the public and the environment. Chief advisor for health and safety Mike Cosman said the Department is leading the project in New Zealand, which runs from February 1 to March 31 and will target forty workplaces nationally.

"This is the second joint health and safety project between Australia and New Zealand, following a 2005 falls prevention campaign.

"Demolition is often very dangerous work, and asbestos removal can pose significant health and safety risks for workers and the public - not to mention causing contamination to the environment.

"Between January 2003 and June 2005, over 300 incidents involving asbestos were reported to the Department, mostly in the construction industry. And the risks are even higher when you realise people carrying out demolition work are often not aware that they're dealing with asbestos, creating potential for more exposure.

"So we're aiming to raise awareness of risks associated with demolition and asbestos removal by helping employers, contractors and sub-contractors detect and manage asbestos and demolition risks, and raise compliance levels.

"Visits to workplaces will also give us a snapshot of demolition and asbestos removal work industry practices. As a result, we can identify areas where more guidance and information is needed, and work towards meeting these needs in the future.

"The campaign will also ensure our approach to safety around demolition and asbestos removal work is consistent with Australia." Mr Cosman said the initiative supports the Workplace Health and Safety Strategy for New Zealand to 2015 - to lift health and safety performance by encouraging a preventative approach to workplace safety.

ENDS

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