What Should I do to Avoid Exposure to Asbestos?

Although Asbestos has been banned from being used in the UK, there are still many buildings built or refurbished prior to 2000 which may contain it. With approximately 20 tradespeople losing their lives every week as a result of past exposure to asbestos, it is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. Therefore to avoid potential exposure to asbestos the following actions should be taken: –

Review the Asbestos Management Plan

Every non-domestic property should have an Asbestos Management Plan which is a live document that contains property specific information regarding the presence, location and condition of existing Asbestos Containing Materials.

The Responsible Person for the premises must ensure that the Asbestos Management Plan is made available to all employees, contractors, maintenance workers or any other person who may potentially disturb Asbestos Containing Material. The responsible person for the premises will ensure that any such person carrying out work on their premises has the opportunity to review the Plan so that appropriate precautions/measures can be taken and a safe system of work can then be derived.

Pre Refurbishment/Demolition Survey

Where intrusive works (i.e. works that may disturb the fabric of the building) are to be undertaken, a Pre Refurbishment/Demolition Asbestos Survey MUST be carried out by a competent Asbestos Surveyor to ensure that the works planned will not disturb any potential Asbestos Containing Materials.

Where asbestos is identified, arrangements can then be made to either remove or encapsulate, depending on whether any Asbestos Containing Materials are likely to be disturbed.

Asbestos Awareness Training

Under Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, every employer must ensure that adequate information, instruction and training is given to employees who are liable to be exposed to asbestos; this includes tradesmen, maintenance workers, contractors etc. Recognising asbestos and knowing the actions to be undertaken should suspected Asbestos Containing Materials be identified is essential to preventing exposure.

Discovering Suspected Asbestos Containing Materials

On discovery of a possible area of contamination or a potential Asbestos Containing Material that is not recorded on the Asbestos Register, the area should be made safe, segregated and secured and the Responsible Person informed. A competent Asbestos Consultant should then be asked to visit the property to take a sample of the material for analysis.

Only when the material has been identified as non-asbestos or any decontamination works have been completed can the area be made available for normal use. Should the identified Asbestos Containing Materials not need to be removed, the Asbestos Consultant will add its details to the Asbestos Register for the property.

Whenever the true composition of a material used in the construction or refurbishment of a pre 2000 building can not be determined, it must be “Presumed” to be an Asbestos Containing Material and a samples should be sent to a UKAS Accredited laboratory for analysis.

If you would like more information on what to do if you discover Asbestos, please visit our Asbestos Management Downloads page.

Posted by: Tom Price, Head of Asbestos Management Services.

For further information on Asbestos Surveys, please contact Tom Price by phone 01332 668877 or email ([email protected]).