3 Jun 2014

CTU calls for asbestos ban

7:08 pm on 3 June 2014

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) is calling for a ban on the import of asbestos.

Australia, Britain and the European Union have all banned any importation of asbestos but New Zealand so far has only banned raw asbestos.

Asbestos exposure is the biggest cause of work-related deaths.

CTU policy director Bill Rosenberg said the Government is working on new regulations - but not urgently enough.

"We should have a declared policy on getting rid of all asbestos in buildings by the year 2030, we should actually have a plan to do this, rather than just hoping it will happen."

Mr Rosenberg said new regulations should be introduced as soon as possible.

But the Building Industry Federation believes an import ban on asbestos would have little effect on its members' business.

Chief executive Bruce Kohn said asbestos is a product of the past and was commonly used as a decorative ceiling spray. He said there is nothing to suggest that it is being used now.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment says current regulations are good enough to deal with asbestos in the short-term. New regulations are part of the Health and Safety at Work Bill which is open for public consultation until 18 July.