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22nd May 2018

What’s the Deal with Asbestos Registers?

Posted by Rob Watson in

An asbestos register is a massively important document showing people where asbestos can be found in a building, but a recent study shows that they’re not well used.

A recent study highlighted that up to a third of construction workers would not check the asbestos register on a site before starting work. This not only puts themselves at risk but also your staff and business.

What is it that you need to do, particularly with regard to contractors on site?

What is an Asbestos Register?

Ok, let’s start with the basics. An asbestos register is essentially a list or table which identifies all the identified and assumed asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) within a premises. It is a really useful summary of where ACM can be found and what it looks like – and is far easier than trying to read through a full survey report!

It’s a really important tool therefore which businesses should use to highlight the presence of asbestos to relevant persons.

What information should be in a Register?

If your building was constructed prior to the year 1999, then in order to comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 you must put together an asbestos register. This should be based on either a survey or other reliable information concerning the materials present within the building. The register needs to identify the materials present, their location, type and condition. It’s always sensible to add photos and a plan of the locations to ensure there are not identification mistakes.

Other useful information to add would be details of materials which could be mistaken for ACMs but which have been tested and proven to be non-asbestos. This will avoid unwarranted scares about materials which you know area non-hazardous.

Now, the most important bit which is often overlooked – the register must be: kept on site and available for inspection at all times; maintained with up-to-date information; and passed on to others who could be affected.

What’s the Risk?

A recent survey on the use of asbestos registers was conducted by Institution of Occupational Safety (IOSH). The survey found that of the 500 construction workers interviewed, 32% have never checked the asbestos register before starting work on a new site and 15% of workers didn’t even know what one was! Even more worryingly, 23% said that they have reason to believe they have been exposed to asbestos fibres and 18% admitted they would be unsure, or have no idea if they were to come across asbestos.

This makes for concerning reading, and it’s therefore not surprising that the HSE estimates that there are still at least 5,000 deaths per year from asbestos-related cancer caused by workplace exposure. As shown by the study, workers could be coming on to your site and putting themselves at risk, along with everyone else in the building.

A disturbance of asbestos is likely to result in clean-up costs, enforcement action, anxious staff and insurance claims/rising premiums. Therefore, retaining control over contractors is not only essential but makes a clear business case to do so.

It’s therefore imperative that you always brief contractors on arrival, use warning stickers to highlight asbestos where necessary and is required to use a permit to work to retain control of their activities.

Need more info or help?

Lighthouse employs a team of specialist asbestos surveyors and we would be pleased to help you develop/review your arrangements for managing asbestos, provide staff training or answer any queries you have.

Call our advice line today on 0845 459 1724.

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