16th October 2019
How To Manage Asbestos
If you’re responsible for any premises, managing any asbestos which may be present
is a high priority. There are a number of rules regarding how to do this, but we still see many businesses getting it wrong!
This guide has been developed to cover the essential requirements of how to go about fulfilling your obligations as a ‘Duty Holder’ under the Regulations.
Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are found in a surprising number of places and materials, so you should never assume that your premises are asbestos-free without good reason.
Whilst the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises that any structure built after the year 2000 can be presumed to be ACM free, for any building constructed prior to that date – you’ll need to undertake a survey or use another effective means to identify any suspect ACM’s.
Identifying ACM’s is the first step in the “duty to manage” asbestos, as required by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
It can be difficult to identify asbestos, as it is often mixed with other materials and so arranging for a competent person to undertake an asbestos survey is an effective way to obtain accurate information about the location, amount and type of any ACM’s.
The person responsible for the premises (i.e. the ‘Duty Holder’) must either arrange a survey if it is suspected there could be ACMs in the premises or, if they don’t wish to arrange a survey then the ‘Duty-Holder’ may instead choose to simply presume the worst-case scenario of asbestos being present within any suspect material in the premises. This would mean they would then need to take all appropriate full stringent precautions for any work that takes place. However, as you can imagine it is far less troublesome and more proportionate to simply have an asbestos survey carried out so it is absolutely clear whether asbestos is present or not, and what its condition is.
The survey will usually involve sampling and analysis to determine the presence of ACM’s and so asbestos surveys should only be carried out by competent surveyors who can clearly demonstrate they have the necessary skills, experience, and qualifications. Following a survey, the surveyor will then produce a report which details the findings and recommendations for the safe management of ACM’s going forward.
In your survey report, you should find a list of the materials identified, with each allocated a “material assessment score”. This is a number based on the type of asbestos fibres in the product, how tightly they are bonded with other substances, the extent of damage and any surface treatment.
You will then need to generate a second number known as the “priority assessment score”. This tells you how likely it is that anyone will be exposed to asbestos fibres.
The priority assessment score can then be added to the material assessment score to create a total. This helps you to prioritise required actions (such as removal, encapsulation or signage, etc.) After you’ve determined your scores, write this down in your asbestos register.
The asbestos register is a key component of how you will manage any asbestos found or presumed to be, in your buildings. This must contain current information about the presence and condition of any asbestos in the building. The asbestos register will, therefore, need to be updated on a regular basis (at least once a year). To do this you should make:
- regular inspections to check the current condition of asbestos materials
- deletions to the register when any asbestos is removed
- additions to the register when new areas are surveyed and asbestos is located
- changes to the register (at any time asbestos-containing materials are found to have deteriorated)
The risk register can be kept as a paper or electronic record and it is very important that this is kept up to date and easily accessible. Paper copies may be easier to pass on to visiting maintenance workers, who will need them to know the location and condition of any asbestos before they start work. Electronic copies are easier to update and are probably better suited for people responsible for large numbers of properties or bigger premises.
A final word on refurbishment works. A Refurbishment and Demolition (R&D) survey always needs to be carried out prior to any refurbishment or demolition work undertaken. This is the case even if your original survey has found no ACMs.
This is because an R&D survey is fully intrusive and involves breaking into walls, exposing underfloor areas, etc. as necessary, in order to check whether there are hidden materials, something which obviously cannot be done in an occupied building.
If you have any queries regarding asbestos surveys, management or awareness training then our team of health and safety consultants will happy to assist, You can contact us on 0845 459 1724 or firstname.lastname@example.org