Asbestos in the workplace is seen by many as the ‘dormant devil’.
As there is often a delay of 15 to 60 years from the time of exposure to the onset of the asbestos related disease – Government, safety experts and businesses all recognise the need to manage asbestos with the upmost care.
Since 2004, all commercial premises (built prior to 2000) have been legally required to have and maintain an asbestos register.
Learn about asbestos – the legal stuff….
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 came into force in April 2012.
It updated previous asbestos regulations to take account of the European Commission’s view that the UK had not fully implemented the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos. In practice the changes are minimal. They mean that some types of non-licensed work with asbestos now have additional requirements, ie notification of work, medical surveillance and record keeping.
What has stayed the same?
If existing asbestos containing materials are in good condition and unlikely to be damaged, they may be left in place.
Their condition needs to be monitored and managed to ensure they are not disturbed.
What are your obligations?
The regulations describe what employers and landlords of commercial premises need to do in order to protect visitors and the workforce from the dangers of asbestos. If you’re responsible for maintenance of non-domestic premises, you have a ‘duty to manage’ the asbestos in them.
You have a duty to protect anyone using or working in the premises from the risks to health that exposure to asbestos causes. If you want to do any building or maintenance work in premises, work or on plant or equipment that might contain asbestos you need to
Licensed Work :The requirements for licensed work remain the same: in the majority of cases, work with asbestos needs to be done by a licensed contractor. This work includes most asbestos removal, all work with sprayed asbestos coatings and asbestos lagging and most work with asbestos insulation and asbestos insulating board (AIB).
Non-licensed asbestos work
This still requires effective controls. The control limit for asbestos is 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre of air (0.1 f/cm3). The control limit is not a ‘safe’ level and exposure from work activities involving asbestos must be reduced to as far below the control limit as possible.
What has changed about Asbestos regulation since 2012?
From 6 April 2012, some non-licensed work needs to be notified to the relevant enforcing authority.
Brief written records should be kept of non-licensed work, which has to be notified eg copy of the notification with a list of workers on the job, plus the level of likely exposure of those workers to asbestos. This does not require air monitoring on every job, if an estimate of degree of exposure can be made based on experience of similar past tasks or published guidance.
By April 2015, all workers/self employed doing notifiable non-licensed work with asbestos must be under health surveillance by a Doctor. Workers who are already under health surveillance for licensed work need not have another medical examination for non-licensed work. BUT medicals for notifiable non-licensed work are not acceptable for those doing licensed work.
Some modernisation of language and changes to reflect other legislation, eg the prohibition section has been removed, as the prohibition of supply and use of asbestos is now covered by REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulations 2006).
What is an asbestos survey ?
The purpose of an asbestos survey is to identify materials that may contain asbestos.
Who can conduct an asbestos survey ?
The survey should be undertaken by a licenced and accredited asbestos surveyor, who will follow the guidance and legislation provided by the Health and Safety Executive
When a suspected material is discovered, a photograph is taken for entry into the asbestos register for the premises. In some cases, a sample of the material will be taken to confirm the presence (or not) of asbestos in the material.
Asbestos sampling is not compulsory in the most basic form of survey,
Same Asbestos Surveys – Different Names
Asbestos surveys are no longer known as “type 1”, “type 2” and “type 3”
These have been replaced with the
The Management Survey
This is a combination of the old type 1 and type 2 asbestos surveys
This includes sampling, but may be restricted to sampling only those materials where the presumption of asbestos could create difficulties or unnecessary expense for the building’s duty holder.
The old “Type 3” asbestos survey is now known as either a “Demolition survey” OR “Refurbishment” survey depending on the end result of the works being undertaken
These are both intrusive surveys. They may involve some damage to certain decorative finishes and even the fabric of the building, since the surveyor will be looking to reduce potential asbestos risks to demolition or refurbishment contractors where possible.
Both demolition and refurbishment surveys can be restricted to those areas in the building likely to be affected by demolition or refurbishment works, with the remainder of the building being subject to a less intrusive management survey.
Asbestos Awareness Safety Training
The important thing for an employer is to ensure that workers who may be exposed to asbestos have received appropriate training.
Asbestos Awareness training courses would be beneficial to are:
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