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© 2016 Office Compliance Management Ltd

Asbestos Management

Are you complying with government legislation for Asbestos in your building(s)?

 

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral silicate that was extensively used as a building material in the UK from the 1950s through to the mid-1980s. It was used for a variety of purposes and was ideal for fireproofing and insulation. Any building built before 2000 (houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals etc.) can contain asbestos. Asbestos materials in good condition are safe unless asbestos fibres become airborne, which happens when materials are damaged.

 

Why is asbestos dangerous? When fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases which are responsible for around 4500 deaths a year. There are four main diseases caused by asbestos: mesothelioma (which is always fatal), lung cancer (almost always fatal), and asbestosis (not always fatal, but it can be very debilitating) and diffuse pleural thickening (not fatal).

 

Asbestos fibres are present in the environment in the UK; people are exposed to very low levels of fibres. A key factor in the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease is the total number of fibres breathed in. Working on or near damaged asbestos-containing materials or breathing in high levels of asbestos fibres, which may be many hundreds of times that of environmental levels can increase your chances of getting an asbestos-related disease.

Asbestos related diseases won't affect immediately but later on in life, so there is a need for you to protect yourself now to prevent you contracting an asbestos-related disease in the future. It is also important to remember that people who smoke and are also exposed to asbestos fibres are at a much greater risk of developing lung cancer.

 

Why do I need to manage my premises/property for asbestos?

The duty to manage asbestos is contained in regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012[4]. It requires the person who has the duty (i.e. the "duty holder") to:

 

  • take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, its amount, where it is and what condition it is in;

  • presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not;

  • make, and keep up-to-date, a record of the location and condition of the asbestos containing materials - or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos;

  • assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the materials identified;

  • prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed;

  • take the necessary steps to put the plan into action;

  • periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements to act on it so that the plan remains relevant and up-to-date; and

  • Provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.

 

There is also a requirement on anyone to co-operate as far as is necessary to allow the duty holder to comply with the above requirements

 

In many cases, the duty holder is the person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises through an explicit agreement such as a tenancy agreement or contract.The duty to manage is directed at those who manage non-domestic premises: the people with responsibility for protecting others who work in such premises, or use them in other ways (landlords), from the risks to ill health that exposure to asbestos causes.

 

What premises are affected?

The duty to manage covers all non-domestic premises such as all industrial, commercial or public buildings, factories, warehouses, offices, shops, hospitals and schools.

 

Non-domestic premises also include those 'common' areas of certain domestic premises: purpose-built flats or houses converted into flats. The common areas of such domestic premises might include foyers, corridors, lifts and lift-shafts, staircases, roof spaces, gardens, yards, outhouses and garages - but would not include the flat itself. Such common areas would not include rooms within a private residence that are shared by more than one household such as bathrooms, kitchens etc. in shared houses and communal dining rooms and lounges in sheltered accommodation.

 

Further detail is set out in a chart of premises[5] and includes which are likely to be classified as domestic or non-domestic for the purposes of the duty to manage.

 

There are three essential steps:

 

  • Find out whether the premises contain asbestos, and, if so, where it is and what condition it is in. If in doubt, materials must be presumed to contain asbestos;

  • Assess the risk; and

  • Make a plan to manage that risk and act on it.

 

Further details of these steps can be found on pages 7-13 of this downloadable file 'A short guide to managing asbestos'[6] or by following the step by step online guide 'Managing my asbestos'[7].

 

To help you meet legislative requirements Office Compliance Management can support you through a number of ways:

 

  • We can arrange for an asbestos management survey to be undertaken to your building by an independent UKAS Accredited Asbestos Survey Company so you comply with Control Asbestos Regulations 2012, Regulation 4.

  • We can then assess the risk; we will arrange for a qualified professional to assess the risk(s) from any asbestos found (as detailed in an asbestos survey).

  • We will make a plan to manage that risk and produce procedures/process to act on which will enable you to meet the requirements of the Control Asbestos Regulations 2012.

 

Read more at the  HSE website, view their interactive house that shows where asbestos could be found - http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/essentials/building.htm