Asbestos and your legal responsibility.

1) Asbestos has been used in construction for over a hundred years and there are millions of properties that still contain asbestos.

2) Asbestos was banned by the UK at the end of 1999, so any building constructed before this date may contain asbestos. The only way to find out, if this is so, is to have the premises surveyed by a qualified asbestos surveyor.

3) There are three main types of asbestos – crocidolite (blue), amosite (brown) and chrysotile (white) asbestos. All forms of asbestos can be hazardous and can only legally be removed by asbestos trained personnel.

4) Generally, the lower density asbestos products are most dangerous but all forms of asbestos are dangerous and must be treated with care. Low density asbestos can only be removed by asbestos companies licensed by the Health and Safety Executive.

5) Asbestos comes in many forms and can only be positively identified by sampling and analysing the sample by a UKAS approved laboratory. The sampling must be undertaken by a certified asbestos surveyor.

6) It is important that when arranging for asbestos to be removed the company removing the asbestos must be capable of carrying out the work in accordance with the stringent asbestos regulations. Not all forms of asbestos have to be removed by an asbestos licensed contractor, but by employing a licensed contractor you can be assured that the contractor has the expertise, training and specialist insurance that are required by law to carry out the work safely. Only if the asbestos deteriorates or needs to be removed as part of refurbishment or demolition work will it have to be removed.

7) Many buildings still contain asbestos and as long as it is in a good condition and unlikely to be disturbed can safely be left in place but it is important, and a legal requirement, to have a procedure in place to monitor on a regular basis the condition of the asbestos.

8) Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2012 contains an explicit duty on the owners and occupiers of non-domestic premises, who have maintenance and repair responsibilities, to assess and manage the risks from the presence of asbestos. The risk assessment will be used to produce a management plan which details and records what actions to take to manage and reduce the risks to asbestos.

The requirements are placed on the ‘duty holder’, who should:

  • Take reasonable steps to determine the location of materials likely to contain asbestos.
  • Presume materials to contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not.
  • Make and maintain a written record of the location of the asbestos containing materials and presumed asbestos.
  • Assess and monitor the condition of the asbestos containing materials.
  • Assess the risk of exposure from ACM’s and presumed ACM’s and prepare a written plan of the actions and measures necessary to manage the risk (i.e. the ‘management plan’)
  • Take steps to see that these actions are carried out.

Management Surveys

The ‘Duty to Manage asbestos’ requirements of Regulation 4 of CAR 2012 apply to all

commercial premises but does not normally apply to domestic premises. However,

the requirements do apply to common parts of premises, including housing

development and blocks of flats, but do not place any direct duties on landlords for

individual houses or flats.

To manage the risk from ACMs, the duty holder will need to:

  • Keep and maintain an up to date record of location, condition, maintenance
  • Repair, seal or remove ACMs if there is a risk of exposure due to their condition or location;
  • Maintain ACMs in a good state of repair and regularly monitor their condition;
  • Inform anyone who is liable to disturb the ACMs about their location and condition;
  • Have arrangements and procedures in place so that work which may disturb the ACMs complies with CAR 2012;
  • Review the plan at regular intervals and make changes if circumstances change.

Refurbishment and Demolition Surveys

This is a legal requirement before any refurbishment or demolition work is commenced. This affects commercial and domestic properties. This type of survey is required to locate and describe, as far as is reasonably practicable, all ACMs in the area where the refurbishment or demolition is to be carried out. The survey will be fully intrusive to gain access to all areas.

Health Effects

Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work related deaths causing 4500 fatalities annually and this is likely to double in the next few years.Exposure to asbestos greatly increases the risk of becoming a victim of a cancer related disease. The sharp microscopic asbestos fibres become lodged on the outer lining of the lungs and being indestructible cause cancerous tumours over many years. There is no cure and usually results in death. Asbestos in a sound condition does not cause a health risk it is only when it is disturbed that asbestos fibres are released. This is why it is so important to identify all the asbestos present in a property and the condition of the asbestos monitored on a regular basis.