New Zealand: Demolition and Asbestos Safety Campaign Underway

The New Zealand Department of Labor is visiting workplaces involved in demolition and asbestos removal work as part of a joint campaign with Australia to improve safety for workers, the public and the environment.

The campaign, which runs until March 31, will target 40 workplaces in New Zealand, according to Chief Advisor for Health and Safety Mike Cosman.

"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," Cosman said. "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 realize people carrying out demolition work are often not aware that they're dealing with asbestos, creating potential for more exposure."

The objective of the campaign, Cosman explained, is to raise awareness of the 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," Cosman said. "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 also will ensure that New Zealand's efforts to promote safety and health in demolition and asbestos removal work is consistent with Australia's, Cosman noted.

Cosman said the initiative supports the Workplace Health and Safety Strategy for New Zealand to 2015, the goal of which is to boost health and safety performance by encouraging a preventative approach to workplace safety.

This is the second joint health and safety project between Australia and New Zealand, Cosman noted. The first was a fall prevention campaign last year.

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