Demolition company ignored asbestos risk, says SafeWork NZ
A WorkSafe NZ investigation has found that demolition work on three residential buildings posed a significant risk of asbestos exposure.
P&M Demolition Specialists and its director, Jade Ngaha, were found to have proceeded with demolition work despite being aware of asbestos material on-site.
No risk assessment or comprehensive survey to establish the location, condition and quantity of asbestos was carried out by the company. There were no safety controls in place, exposing workers and neighbours to asbestos fibres and asbestos dust, the report said.
Asbestos dust was reportedly found well beyond the boundary of the worksite.
“It’s beyond belief that Mr Ngaha did not follow recognised industry practice, which includes testing for the presence of asbestos, given he had been told that it was present. Nor did he ensure his employees had the right skills or equipment for the task,” said Keith Stewart, WorkSafe chief inspector.
“Asbestos is very dangerous, and the importance of having specialist knowledge and help to manage its removal is critical to reduce risk. Safety is paramount when it comes to asbestos, and that is why the regulations are so detailed.”
Asbestos is the single biggest cause of deaths from work-related disease. On average, about 170 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases. Breathing in airborne asbestos fibres is a serious risk to health — once the fibres are breathed in, they lodge in the lungs and may cause asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.
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