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Seriousness of asbestos still not being observed


Media release -
Seriousness of asbestos still not being observed

WorkSafe says the dangers associated with asbestos exposure are still not being adequately managed by those in the demolition business.

Blenheim District Court has sentenced Crafar Crouch Construction Limited for failing to appropriately manage the risk of asbestos in the demolition of two Blenheim buildings, one at 101 Budge St, the other at 39 Queen St. The fire damaged building Budge St building was demolished in August 2016. The Queen St building was demolished between December 2016 and January 2017. The company’s conduct put at risk a number of its workers and potentially exposed members of the public to the risk of asbestos.

WorkSafe was notified of concerns relating to both the sites but only after each of the demolitions had taken place. WorkSafe ordered testing of the sites and found that asbestos had been present during the demolition of the buildings.

WorkSafe’s investigation found that Crafar Crouch had failed to adequately test for the presence of asbestos in the buildings before they began demolition, and also failed to appropriately manage the risk of asbestos in the process of demolishing the building and disposing of the rubble.

In relation to the Budge St demolition WorkSafe’s Head of Specialist Interventions Simon Humphries said “We found that workers had not worn appropriate respiratory personal protective equipment which is an absolute mandatory in asbestos management. Workers were seen picking through the last of the rubble by hand with only gloves to protect them from the respirable fibres.”

“We were also alarmed that the company appeared to show no concern over the possibility that asbestos was present on the jobs – that is startling in a company that regularly undertakes such work.”

“Asbestos is a well-known risk for those in the demolition business and should have been well known by the director of Crafar Crouch who was responsible for the demolitions and who held a certificate of competence for asbestos removal at the time of the demolition.”

“Around 170 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases making it New Zealand’s number one killer. The utter negligence displayed by Crafar Crouch and their disregard for worker health is appalling.”

New regulations for the management of asbestos removal were introduced in April 2018. Crafar Crouch do not currently hold a relevant license for asbestos removal work.

Notes:

- The defendant was convicted and discharged for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016.
- A total fine of $318,750 was imposed for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
- Crafar Crouch Construction Limited was sentenced under two charges in relation to Budge St:.
o Charge 1: Section 48(1), (2)(c), 36(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
Being a PCBU, failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who worked for Crafar Crouch Construction Limited, while the workers were at work in the business of demolition and waste removal at 101 Budge St, and that failure exposed the workers to a risk of serious illness.
The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1,500,000.
o Charge 2: Regulations 20(2) and (20(6)(b) of the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016
Being a PCBU who intended to carry out the demolition of a structure at a workplace, failed to ensure the structure was inspected to determine whether asbestos or ACM was fixed to or installed in the structure, prior to demolishing the structure.
The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $50,000.

- Crafar Crouch Construction Limited was sentenced under one charge in relation to Queen St:
o Charge 3: Section 48(1), (2)(c), 36(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
Being a PCBU, failed to ensure so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its workers while the workers were at work in the business of demolition at 39 Queen Street, and that failure exposed the workers to a risk of serious illness.
The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1,500,000.

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