If you are responsible for the maintenance and repair of a non-domestic premises or workplace, then you're also responsible for the safe management of asbestos. Being in charge means you also have certain legal obligations, and the management of asbestos is an important legal duty under The Control of Asbestos Regulations Act 2006. Asbestos can be present in any building built before the year 2000 and although the dangers are now well known, managing existing asbestos must be carried out properly. So read on for a guide to understand the importance of asbestos risk assessments.
Where is Asbestos Found?
The very nature of asbestos makes it very difficult to identify. Commonly used in many different types of building material, asbestos can be found in anything from cement to artex. Plastic tiles, ceiling tiles, corrugated roofing, panels and boarding, insulation board, lagging, fireproofing and spray insulation coating installed before the 1990's all typically contain asbestos. If disturbed or removed, the tiny fibres in the asbestos cause serious and fatal lung and respiratory conditions. Therefore, identifying any asbestos in a building is essential to avoid any danger to health. No building work should ever be planned without being aware of the presence of asbestos. In most cases, samples need to be taken, to assess whether materials contain asbestos, in accordance with UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) requirements.
Register your Findings
Once asbestos has been identified, you're required to produce a record detailing where the asbestos has been found. This is known as an Asbestos Register. The register should also be updated on an annual basis, to show the asbestos is being correctly monitored. This should describe any deterioration in the asbestos, any asbestos that has been removed, any new discoveries, or any other changes. The asbestos register must be given to any contractors working on the building or site, or passed on to any new owners.
Appointing an Asbestos Surveyor
Those responsible for the safe management of asbestos in a building must use a competent surveyor to carry out the survey to comply with the HSG 264 survey guidance document produced by the HSE. So always use an asbestos survey firm such as Artisan Surveyors who carry out surveys in accordance with HSG 264, and provide clear and comprehensive type 3 reports. These include an asbestos register and material risk assessment, sample analysis, annotated CAD drawn floor plans,photographs of samples taken, and recommendations and advice for any asbestos identified within the building. If no asbestos is identified in the building, then you need not create an asbestos register. If however, asbestos is found, then your report fulfills your legal duty under the Control of Asbestos Act.
The Safe Removal of Asbestos
Asbestos should never be removed unnecessarily, but if the removal of asbestos is required, then it's essential that this is carried out by a HSE licensed asbestos contractor. Asbestos waste must always be safely transported and disposed of in accordance with The Control of Asbestos Regulations act 2012.