Managing Asbestos: Everything You Need To Know
A naturally occurring fibre, asbestos was widely used in the UK in construction and other industries until the late 1990s. It was often found in buildings for flooring, insulation, roofing and was sprayed on walls and ceilings.
Although it has been banned in the UK, buildings constructed before the year 2000 may still contain asbestos. Studies show significant evidence that materials containing asbestos that are disturbed or damaged release fibres into the air which, if inhaled, cause serious diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural thickening or lung cancer.
To learn more about asbestos management, read our advice below.
Who Is Responsible For Managing The Risk of Asbestos?
If you are responsible for maintenance or repair of premises or equipment, you are the duty holder of asbestos management and should provide information on where any asbestos is in the building and what condition it is in.
If you find that you are responsible for managing this risk, you should attempt to collect as much information as you can about any previous asbestos record. You may also want to:
- Ask the previous owners or tenants of the building
- Ask equipment repairs or suppliers
- Ask the building designer, architect or builder
- Obtain a copy of any reports or plans relating to the building
Managing Asbestos in Buildings
Inspection of your building through an asbestos survey gives you the necessary information to know if there are traces in the property and therefore if you are responsible for managing it or not. The area should also be vacated during the inspection.
If it is for smaller premises, following these steps is sufficient to make an asbestos survey. However, if it’s for larger premises, we advise seeking out competent asbestos surveyors to effectively find products that may contain asbestos.
Determine Which Materials Are Priority
After identifying products that contain asbestos, you will need a material score and a priority score to determine whether it is in good or bad condition. Materials in good condition, without visible damage, should be recorded with a score of 0 for both material and priority.
But if you find that there are materials that have faced damage, you can record them as a 2 meaning they have suffered medium damage whereas high damage, delaminated materials should be ranked as 3. If two items have the same priority score then you should go by the higher material score.
Alternatively, you can check out this material and priority scoring tool provided by the British Health and Safety Executive. Whilst collecting this information, you should devise an ‘asbestos management plan’ if you are planning out work on the building.
What is an Asbestos Management Plan?
All business workplaces and buildings need to have an asbestos management plan that establishes traces of asbestos, including a plan of action in case of an incident and how this will be managed in the future. This might include:
- Where the asbestos is located
- How it will be managed
- What the procedure is if work is going to be carried out that may expose the material.
- How emergencies and incidents will be logged
- A timetable for managing asbestos exposure. This might include removal dates, activities that could alter the environment as well as a review timeline.
This plan must be supplied to any workers coming onto the site to eliminate the risk of this fibre exposure while carrying out any maintenance. It must also be updated whenever work has affected these materials as well as a regular record monitoring the condition of asbestos materials.
Tell People What You’re Doing
With these management plans in place, it is important to tell employees, maintenance workers and anyone who is in proximity to the area about your findings and decision to carry out work or not.
You must train these individuals about how to report problems to best remedy any issues. Another important thing to highlight is that you must provide labels (which can be obtained from safety sign companies) on materials that contain or may contain asbestos.
Testing For Asbestos
If you aren’t planning any work, then you don’t need to test for asbestos. On the other hand, if you are a landlord, tenant or managing agent of commercial property you will need to discuss your requirements with a surveyor.
The key point to take away from this is that you should never carry out the work yourself. Contractors need the proper equipment and training to fulfil successful asbestos management. Additionally, if you choose not to have professional tests done to confirm the presence and absence of asbestos, these materials should be presumed to contain it.
Failure to carry out an asbestos survey and have it managed can land you with a fine of up to £20,000 or, in some cases, facing imprisonment for up to 12 months. If you have committed significant asbestos violations on your property, you can be subject to an unlimited fine and/or imprisonment for up to 2 years.
If you are worried about undertaking asbestos management, we can offer you a free quote. If one of our specialist engineers finds anything that needs to be re-serviced or rectified we offer a free no-obligation quote with any of our services.
Get in touch with us today and we’ll keep your property safe from asbestos.