Managing the asbestos risk to protect those around you.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous material which if inhaled can cause serious diseases.
These include cancers of the lungs and chest linings. Despite its use being banned in 2000, asbestos was used widely in the construction and refurbishment of buildings for many years. This was usually because of its high tensile strength, and non-flammable characteristics.
Those responsible for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises have a legal duty to manage the risk from any asbestos that might be present. This is set out in the Control of Asbestos Regulations
Asbestos can be found in any building built before the year 2000. However, caution may still be necessary if new premises have been built on existing basements or linked to adjoining structures.
It can be difficult to spot as its use had such diverse application. Therefore, you should do all that you can to find it by:
- using information you may already have about asbestos in your premises
- checking building plans or other relevant information
- consulting others such as, architects or surveyors
- carrying out a thorough inspection of your premises (you may need specialist help to do this).
If there is asbestos in your premises, you should:
- assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres, making and keeping suitable records
- prepare a plan, setting out how the risks will be managed
- implement the precautions set out in your plan, reviewing this periodically
- provide relevant information to others who may work on or disturb it.
If you intend to carry out work on asbestos containing materials or have this done on your behalf, you will need to meet more detailed requirements. This will need careful consideration.
For example, depending upon the type of work and the type asbestos present you may need to use an HSE-licensed asbestos contractor. In other cases, you may need to implement suitable precautions to make sure people are safe.
You may also have responsibilities as a ‘client’ under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations.
Further information on what is required is available on the HSE website