Asbestos Exposure

If you think you have might have been exposed to asbestos in the past, it is important that your GP knows. However, it is not a reason to panic.

Most people do not develop serious or life-threatening lung disease as a result of exposure to asbestos. You should always seek medical advice if you have symptoms like coughing, feeling short of breath or chest pain.

You are most at risk if you have worked with asbestos in the past, for example, in the shipbuilding, construction, insulation, electrical, pipe fitting or demolition industries. The risk is greater if you have worked with asbestos over many years.

If you may have been exposed to asbestos through your job, you, your employer, or your GP will need to notify WorkSafe New Zealand. If your health needs to be monitored, this will be arranged through WorkSafe New Zealand and usually your employer will pay for this. Your GP should also lodge an ACC Claim.

The health monitoring usually includes a physical examination that emphasizes the respiratory system and include a lung function test (FEV1 and FVC). A chest x-ray (PA and lateral) may also be required should a specialist recommend it.

For information, resources and further advice;

Pleural Plaques


Pleural Thickening


Lung Foundation NZ

Worksafe NZ

John Millar Law