Asbestos: Know Your Duties

Asbestos: Know Your Duties


A few weeks we posted a short note about the issues around asbestos. We thought it would be good to follow up with a little more information.

Within the construction industry we are all made aware of the dangers of asbestos, but how much do you really know about your management duties? Whether or not your duties are legal or moral we all need to be aware of the extent we have to go to, to protect ourselves and others, for further information please refer to The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2016 produced by the HSE.

Whose role is it to manage existing asbestos?
The person(s) responsible for managing the asbestos is the property owner(s), whether or not the building is occupied by yourself or if it is leased.

How must the asbestos be managed?
Each non domestic property must have an asbestos survey to identify the locations and types of asbestos found.The property must also have an up to date Health and Safety risk assessment outlining the location and type of asbestos and how to reduce contact risk. It is important prior to any works being undertaken on a property that the asbestos survey is reviewed to omit possible interference and exposure, and if it is required a professional must remove and dispose of it correctly.

Do you know what asbestos survey you require?
There are two different types of surveys, as outlined in the 2012 HSE document “Asbestos: The Survey Guide” these are Management surveys and refurbishment and demolition surveys. A management survey will be required during the normal occupation and use of the building to ensure continued management, a refurbishment or demolition survey will be necessary when the building (or part of it) is to be upgraded, refurbished or demolished.

Asbestos is mysterious, do we know what we’re looking for?
Asbestos comes in many forms and in various products, it was officially banned from manufacture in the UK in 1999 but it still features within buildings across the country. It would be impossible for us to create an exhaustive list of all the items it is included within, that’s why we recommend having a specialist assess properties to be both thorough and keep you safe, although more commonly, it is typical to identify corrugated roof sheeting, pipe ducting, vinyl floor tiles and insulation to have potential asbestos, so stay alert and do not disturb it!

How harmful actually is Asbestos, and how can it affect me?
The harm from asbestos comes directly from the fibres which are released when the material is disturbed, these fibres are then inhaled or ingested, the fibres are then too hard for the human body to destroy and can get lodged within your lung or body tissues. Asbestos fibres can live within the body for more than 20 years undetected and benign, but once active then lead to conditions such as Asbestosis, Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma which are all considered fatal.

As a practice we would always recommend obtaining specific professional advice, the above advice is a generic introduction to keep our clients aware of the risks related to asbestos, if you require any assistance please get in touch!