Asbestos Testing – What You Need To Know

What is Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring and incredibly versatile substance. It has a number of really useful properties such as resistance to electricity, fire and heat. It also has excellent average tensile strength, impressive sound absorption qualities and is relatively inexpensive. All of this made it a substance that was highly sought after and commonly used. In fact it was so useful that it was used in many building materials right up until the year 1987.

So, asbestos is fantastic, except of course, that inhalation of asbestos fibres can be lethal.

It is due to this that New Zealand introduced a ban on the importation of Blue and Brown asbestos in 1984 and chysotile (white) asbestos in 1999. However building materials containing asbestos were produced right up until the year 1987. The really scary part is that during that time, there were large quantities of building materials that contain asbestos, commonly called Asbestos Containing Material or ACM, stockpiled by a number of companies. This meant that asbestos containing material was used in the construction of many homes right up until the year 2000.

Given the large quantities of ACM in New Zealand homes, the government introduced legislation which came into effect on 4 April, 2018 that states that “Landlords must ensure that, when work is carried out at their property, it is done safely and without endangering workers or others, including tenants”. The legislation is specifically in relation to asbestos management and goes on to state that “Landlords have a duty to identify asbestos and prepare an asbestos management plan“. Here is a link to the Worksafe website which further highlights the legal requirements of a Landlord AND Property Manager around residential properties and asbestos.

You think that there is asbestos on your property, what now?

Firstly, don’t panic. Asbestos is incredibly common in any property that was built prior to 1990 and reasonably common in properties built right up until the year 2000.  Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) only becomes dangerous if the integrity of the ACM is compromised. In other words, as long as the particular building material containing the asbestos is not damaged, there is no risk of harm.

But, if you are a Landlord or a Property Manager you are required to develop an asbestos management plan. ATS has introduced a new to market product called a Non-Invasive Visual Inspection Report. The purpose of this is to ensure two things.

  1. That any contractors that are required to work at the property can use the report as a basis to identify any ACM on site. This means that they can assess the work that they are going to perform and ensure that it will not damage the ACM in any way. Should the work that they are going to conduct require cutting into, removing of or otherwise disturbing the ACM, then the ACM must be removed by a competent person (if the total ACM to be removed is under 10m²) and a licensed asbestos removal company (if the ACM to be removed is above 10m²) prior to the work being conducted.
  2. The report allows Property Managers and Landlords to check the integrity of the ACM on site as part of their regular inspections. This way, they can ensure that there has been no damage to the ACM, which in turn ensures that there is no Health and Safety risk to the tenants.

You are a Landlord or Property Manager, what do you need to do?

If you are a Landlord or a Property Manager, then you are legally required to meet the legislation regarding asbestos management which came into effect on the 4 April, 2018. But we have great news. ATS has created an incredibly cost effective product which will ensure that you are meeting your legal obligations, keeping your tenants and any contractors that come to site safe and will not cost you an arm and a leg. In fact it will only cost you 97 cents per week! Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Give ATS a call and book in a Non-Invasive Visual Inspection.
  2. Let your tenants know when they can expect ATS to come to the property.
  3. ATS will conduct the inspection and supply you with a written report.
  4. Hold this report on file and use it to as part of your regular property inspections to check that the ACM is not damaged and provide a copy of the report to any contractors that will be going onto the property to conduct any work.

That’s it. ATS has created this report in order to ensure that Property Managers and Landlords are compliant with the legislation and that they are doing their part as a PCBU (Person Conducting Business or Undertaking) to keep contractors and tenants safe. So with one quick call, you can take “All Practicable Steps” to ensure the Health and Safety of anyone working or living in your property. All of this for just 97 cents per week!