The dangers of asbestos are now well known, but unfortunately, asbestos still presents a serious hazard to health. Many thousands of buildings still contain asbestos, which if disturbed, can be fatal. Every property owner or manager must therefore do everything they can to minimise the risk to public health. Read on for a guide to safely identifying, managing and removing asbestos from buildings.
Asbestos was a widely used building material until the mid 1980’s, and there are currently around 3500 deaths a year in Britain resulting from asbestos exposure between the 1950’s and 1970’s. You are most likely to find asbestos in buildings which were refurbished or constructed between 1950 and 1980. However, asbestos has been around since the early 19th century, so any older property is potentially at risk. Typically used in cement, insulation board, corrugated sheets, artex, or as sprayed foam insulation or lagging, asbestos can be very difficult to identify without specialist knowledge. However, anybody who is responsible for a non-domestic premises has a legal duty to manage asbestos safely under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
Duty to Manage Asbestos
Whether the duty holder is landlord, tenant or property manager, the person who has the duty must do the following:
- Find out if asbestos is present
- Make and keep up to date records of the location of the material for an Asbestos Register.
- Assess the risk to anyone likely to exposed to asbestos fibres
- Create a plan detailing how exposure to asbestos will be managed
- Take steps to implement the plan
- Provide information on the risk to anyone who is likely to disturb the asbestos
- Periodically review the danger and risk assessment
Failing to do this can not only jeopardise the health of others, but result in a fine of £20,000 or six months in prison. The easiest way to fulfil your obligations as regards asbestos is to arrange for a full asbestos survey to be carried out.
Asbestos surveyors will carry out a full survey to identify where asbestos is found in the building. This often involves taking samples of building materials, which must be analysed in a UKAS accredited laboratory. Asbestos surveyors should be P402 / S301 qualified, with a number of years experience in the field. Ideally, a survey firm will offer every element of safe asbestos management, from identifying the risk, to producing reports, and using trusted licensed contractors to remove the materials if needed. Artisan Surveyors offer all of the above, including UKAS analysis and experienced P402/S301 certified surveyors. Click here for more information.
Dealing with Asbestos
Working with asbestos, or if asbestos is identified and needs to be removed, can only be done by a HSE licensed asbestos contractor. This should also include the use of a licensed asbestos removal carrier, as asbestos is classed as a hazardous waste material, needing to be safely transported and disposed of at a licensed site. Most licensed asbestos contractors are qualified to remove waste, but always check first.
Harry Price is a personal trainer, freelance writer and experienced traveller. He also seems to find time to volunteer at his local charities and has a passion for animal rights activism.