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Last reviewed: Mon, 31 May 2010

Working with asbestos

Working with asbestos can be dangerous to your health and to those around you. Special care needs to be taken if you intend to remove asbestos.

It is advisable not to try to remove asbestos yourself and use a Department of Labour certified contractor (DOL OSH) for work on private property.

The Department of Labour has produced the New Zealand Guidelines for the Management and Removal of Asbestos and these are available on their website. The guidelines are produced by the New Zealand Demolition and Asbestos Association (NZDAA). They contain the industry’s current best practice standards and procedures for the safe and efficient removal, transportation and disposal of asbestos-contaminated material.

If you are not sure if you have correctly identified asbestos, contact the Community Public Health for further assistance by phoning (03) 364 1777 .

Safe removal methods

If you intend to remove asbestos yourself, you should wear suitable protection whether you are working inside or outdoors. The Community and Public Health have developed a useful brochure on safely removing asbestos from the home [PDF 161KB].

To clean your asbestos cement corrugated roof use the following steps:
  1. Do not clean the roof unless really necessary as asbestos fibres may be released during the process.
  2. A disposable dust mask with particulate filters will provide the necessary suitable level of protection if used following instructions.
  3. If cleaning is necessary, apply a moss killer using a brush or fine spray.
  4. Remove the dead moss with a broom a day or more after treatment.
  5. Do not sand or scrape the cement.

Never use a pressure washer to clean an asbestos surface.

Precautions that should be taken when removing or repairing asbestos roofs:

  1. With appropriate and careful management there is a reduced risk of serious exposure to asbestos fibres when working outdoors.
  2. A disposable dust mask with particulate filters should provide a suitable level of respiratory protection.
  3. Asbestos cement sheets can be fragile so take care to avoid falling through the roof.
  4. If you do decide to dismantle an asbestos roof, the work should be carried out in accordance with OSH guidance in working with asbestos cement.
  5. If possible, spray the sheets with water to reduce dust emissions.
  6. Try to remove them whole and take care to avoid breakage or sliding dry sheets over one another, as this can release asbestos fibres into the air.
  7. Do not use power tools to cut, drill or grind asbestos cement.


After removal, the asbestos should be double bagged or wrapped in polythene sheets, sealed, labelled Asbestos and taken to a disposal site licensed to take asbestos waste.

The only refuse station that accepts asbestos is the Metro Place EcoDrop (formerly EcoDepot), open Monday-Friday.

Phone: (03) 941 7513


Authorising Unit: Environmental Policy and Approvals

Last reviewed: Monday, 31 May 2010

Next review: Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Keywords: asbestos, hazardous waste