New Zealand Law Society - Builder fined in first case under new asbestos regulations

Builder fined in first case under new asbestos regulations

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The first sentencing has taken place under new asbestos regulations.

WorkSafe says Richard John Knight was fined $3,000 for being unlicensed for an asbestos demolition job carried out on a Riccarton building in February 2017.

The sentencing at the Christchurch District Court is the first of its kind under new asbestos regulations, the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 and relates to strict new rules around licensing.

While the worker did have experience in the construction industry and in demolition, he was not licensed to manage the removal of asbestos, nor had he obtained the required certification for the work he completed.

“Mr Knight required a Class A removal licence for the job – but instead of ensuring a competent person was engaged, decided to flout the law,” says WorkSafe’s Head of Specialist Interventions, Simon Humphries.

WorkSafe’s inquiries found that in addition to not being licensed for the job, he also failed to safely manage the risk of asbestos in the demolition of the house. This included failing to decontaminate equipment used in the demolition and failing to wear appropriate protective equipment. He also allowed other people to enter the house unprotected.

Mr Knight also deceived the building owners into thinking he was licensed to complete the work.

“Asbestos is an extremely dangerous product and we have regulations in place for a reason - to keep workers and the public safe. This worker was deceitful and dangerous and we don’t need these sorts of people working in the construction industry” says Mr Humphries.

A reduced fine of $3000 was imposed, the judge took into account Mr Knight’s financial situation - he had been adjudicated bankrupt in September 2018; and his company RM Solutions was liquidated in May 2017.