It's now illegal to carry out any work using asbestos in New Zealand. Products containing asbestos have not been imported since 2016, so the greatest risk to us today is when existing materials which contain asbestos are disturbed, and the fibers are made airborne, such as with building work.

What exactly is the risk?

Asbestos poses a significant and serious risk to human health when the fibres, often invisible to the naked eye, are inhaled into the lungs.

There are around 170 deaths a year in New Zealand resulting from exposure to asbestos in the workplace. Asbestos-related-illness is always devastating, and it usually comes out-of-the-blue, years after exposure has occurred.  

Asbestos must be managed carefully now, so that more people don't suffer the same way in the future.

Asbestos Containing Materials

Asbestos Containing Materials, (or ACM for short) is the name given to the many different products which have been manufactured using asbestos fibres.

A large number of New Zealand's houses and other buildings constructed or renovated between the 1940s and the 1990s include products and materials that contain asbestos.

Expecting Average Jo to know all the places where asbestos might be lurking is a pretty big ask, and this makes correctly identifying and handling asbestos a massive challenge.

Take a look at the residential property below, and you'll get an idea of what we're talking about… (click on the image to open a larger version)

Asbestos in house

What makes managing the asbestos risk even harder is that some building work, as demolition of certain types of buildings and houses, can be done without a building consent, or any 'check and balance' system that would usually raise a flag on problems like as asbestos.

Certain types of work can also be done without input from building industry professionals who have the knowledge to spot asbestos containing materials early, so they can be handled correctly without disturbing the fibres.

Remember though, that no consent doesn't mean that you don't need to comply with requirements to carry out work safely, which includes managing asbestos containing materials so that no one is put at risk.

Yip. It's pretty big ask… So we really want to help with getting this right.

We're here to help

TCDC has joined forces with other regional and district Councils, Worksafe New Zealand, District Health Boards and Fire Emergency New Zealand. We have combined our efforts and are committed to working with our communities to manage asbestos the right way, and reduce the risk to human health.

The are some links to the requirements and to information on the right of this page. You can also give Council's Health and Safety Advisor a ring on 07 868 0200, or email have a chat about what you're planning, what you might need to consider, and what we can do to help.