What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work related deaths in the UK.
Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work related deaths in the UK (Source: HSE).
Asbestos was used throughout the UK in building materials from the 1950’s right up to the mid-1990’s. As an excellent fireproofing and insulation material, asbestos was commonly used in the building and construction industry and can be found in buildings built before the year 2000. This applies to houses, schools, factories, shops, hospitals, offices etc. Asbestos materials are generally considered to be safe, unless the material becomes damaged and the fibres within it are released and become airborne.
Asbestos can be found in roofing panels, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, downpipes and rainwater goods, fire insulation, fire blankets, toilet cisterns and seats, pipework lagging, window panelling, soffits, fuse boxes, textured coatings, boiler insulation and more.
What you need to know as a duty holderMore info
Asbestos is still the single biggest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. There are somewhere between half-a-million and million non-domestic properties containing asbestos in the UK. Large amounts of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were used in the construction of new and refurbished buildings until 1999 when all use of asbestos was banned.
The duty to manage asbestos is a legal requirement under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It applies to the owners and occupiers of non-domestic premises (shops, schools, offices, industrial units/plants and so on) who have responsibility for maintenance and repair activities.
Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012), owners/occupiers have a duty to assess the presence and condition of any asbestos-containing materials. If asbestos is present, or is presumed to be present, then it must be managed appropriately by the 'dutyholder'.
In our experience, the practical role of asbestos dutyholder usually falls to a site's facilities manager, chief safety officer or operations manager. If you do not have such defined roles within your organisation, we strongly advise you to decide who is specifically responsible as the asbestos dutyholder and act accordingly.
The HSG 264 Managing Asbestos in Premises Survey Guide states: "To help comply with the legal requirements and to ensure that ACMs in premises are properly managed, dutyholders should identify a person (and in some cases a deputy) within their organisation who will be responsible for that management. An appointed person will be essential where the dutyholder has a large or complex building portfolio."
Under the CAR 2012 regulations, dutyholders must maintain an asbestos risk register that records: inspections on the condition of asbestos materials; deletions when any asbestos is removed; additions when new areas are surveyed and asbestos is located; and other issues such as if asbestos-containing materials are found to have deteriorated. The risk register can be kept as either a paper record or an electronic record, such as that provided by iStar Asbestos Management software. The HSE notes on its website that electronic copies are easier to update.
As a dutyholder, you are obliged to prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from asbestos-containing materials will be managed. In the words of the HSE, you must "periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements to act on it so that the plan remains relevant and up-to-date". Plus you need to be able to provide information on the location and condition of asbestos-containing materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.
A good computerised system will alert you to how and when asbestos should be managed. This means that you comply with the HSE's requirement to have an active asbestos management plan. It should also control material risk analysis and provide instant reports to anyone liable to work with your ACMs
Ignorance of the requirements of Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and other related mandates such as the HSG 264 Managing Asbestos in Premises Survey Guide is no defence. The penalties of non-compliance can be severe. A comprehensive asbestos management system will also help you comply with The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM), The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the L127 Management of Asbestos in Non-Domestic Premises guidelines and more.
The HSG 264 Managing Asbestos in Premises Survey Guide (the successor to MDHS 100) says: "Electronic documents can also be used to record all the remedial work carried out and to prompt the relevant person, eg the building manager, to carry out and record any further inspections required. Some databases can also link digital picture images of a sample and CAD plans. Printed versions of an electronic document will usually be needed for contractors and others. The distribution and circulation of such documents will need to be carefully managed to ensure only current versions are referenced."
Surveys are a crucial part of the process of dealing with asbestos-containing materials on your site. Surveys should be undertaken by qualified professionals following the procedures of the HSG 264 Managing Asbestos in Premises Survey Guide. Thomson Ltd is a leading ARCA-accredited operator with nearly 40 years experience in the asbestos management and abatement field. We provide surveys, sampling, analysis, removal and training services. See our asbestos services section for more details
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