PCBs in light fittings

Light fittings made before 1980 may contain PCBs. As a board of trustees, you must arrange for appropriately trained people to dispose of any such fittings found in your school.

Your health and safety responsibilities

Keeping people safe from the hazards like degrading PCBs is part of your overall health and safety responsibilities. 

Health, safety and wellbeing

This will help you meet the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 — NZ Legislation website (external link)

Electrical equipment that may contain PCBs

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of over 200 chemicals. Before 1980 they were used in many fluorescent tubes and other electrical equipment.

PCBs are highly toxic and don't break down quickly.

Between 1994 and 1998 a nationwide programme identified and disposed of many fittings and equipment containing PCBs in schools. However some schools may still have old light fittings (made before 1980) that contain PCBs.

Dealing with PCBs in light fittings

If you suspect any light fittings at your school date from before 1980, they may contain PCBs.

For disposal advice, contact WorkSafe NZ.

Contact us — WorkSafe NZ website (external link)

Only appropriately trained people can dispose of PCBs. You can't simply employ an electrician to remove the lighting/electrical equipment and take it to a landfill.

WorkSafe NZ’s Safe Management of PCBs Code of Practice contains information aimed at those with statutory or other responsibilities in managing PCBs, rather than boards of trustees.

Safe Management of PCBs Code of Practicce — Ministry of Health website (external link)

Paying to remove PCBs

If changing the light fittings is part of a project, pay for the costs for replacement and disposal as part of the project.

For general replacement of light fittings, use your 5 Year Agreement (5YA) funding.

5 Year Agreement (5YA) funding

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback