Christchurch flooring businesses fined for asbestos mishandling

Fri, Feb 17
Asbestos fibres held in hands.

Two Christchurch flooring businesses were fined on Thursday after the poor handling of flooring containing asbestos.

Inspired Enterprises Limited, trading as Harrisons Carpet and Flooring Christchurch West, was hired to replace flooring in a house in Broomfield in June 2021.

Lawrence Gannaway, a subcontractor trading as Simply Floors, uncovered old vinyl and disturbed its backing during removal.

It was then disposed of in an unsafe way, later testing showing it contained chrysotile asbestos.

"When asbestos is disturbed or removed, the fibres can become airborne and be inhaled, which can pose a significant health risk," WorkSafe said in a statement.

"[An] investigation found neither identified at the outset that asbestos was likely to be disturbed. An asbestos management plan should have been in place but was not, and the customer’s quote made no mention of asbestos."

Both Inspired Enterprises and Gannaway were sentenced on Thursday in the Christchurch District Court for health and safety failures.

The business saw a fine of $52,500 for failing to ensure proper health and safety measures, while a $1100 fine was imposed on Gannaway for mishandling the hazardous substance.

“This unfortunate incident shows how even well-known operators like a Harrisons franchisee can be caught out on the basics of asbestos safety,” says WorkSafe’s General Inspectorate head, Simon Humphries.

“It’s not OK to assume there is no risk and you are in the clear. Businesses have a duty to identify and manage risks associated with asbestos, and management plans are required for workplaces where asbestos or asbestos-containing material has been identified or is likely to be present."

WorkSafe says buildings constructed or renovated before 2000 are likely to contain asbestos materials.


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