Does your home or office use asbestos materials? Asbestos was widely used in construction and building supplies until a few decades ago. Asbestos fibres are incredibly harmful to the lungs, and this has led to asbestos being completely shunned in building industry, and home owners getting rid of the asbestos parts in their house.
Check out our asbestos FAQs if you have questions about asbestos, its removal and disposal. We aim to dispel some of the myths about asbestos and help you clear your doubts with the following FAQs. Get in touch with Asguard Ltd in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan if you need asbestos removal and other asbestos services around Swansea, Newport, Bristol and throughout the UK.
You can find efficient and professional help for your asbestos management in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, Newport, Swansea, Bristol and throughout the UK with Asguard Ltd.
Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres can cause cancer of the lungs and chest lining. Asbestos is a risk to health if asbestos fibres are released into the air and breathed in. Past exposure to asbestos currently kills 3000 people a year in Great Britain. This number is expected to go on rising for the next ten years.
There is no cure for asbestos-related diseases. There is usually a long delay between first exposure to asbestos and the onset of disease. This can vary from 15 to 60 years. Only by preventing or minimising the exposures now will asbestos-related diseases be wiped out.
There are three main types of asbestos still found in some premises. These are commonly called 'blue asbestos' (crocidolite), 'brown asbestos', (amosite) and 'white asbestos' (chrysotile). All of them are dangerous, but blue and brown asbestos are more hazardous than white. You cannot identify them just by their colour.
Although it is now illegal to use asbestos in the construction or refurbishment of any premises, thousands of tonnes were used in the past, and much of it is still in place. If they are not in a good condition or get damaged and destroyed, it can become a danger to health, because asbestos fibres are released into the air and people can breathe them in. This can lead to asbestos-related diseases.
Structural steel work
Ducts (used for fire protection)
Much has been done to control the risks from asbestos. The use, supply and importation of asbestos and asbestos products are controlled by strict regulations. The control of any work with, on or around, asbestos is well controlled, with many types of work requiring a licence. However these regulations only protect workers from exposure to asbestos when the presence of asbestos is known. At least a quarter of those dying from asbestos-related diseases have worked in the maintenance or building trades. It is those people who may be unknowingly exposed to asbestos fibres during their day to day work, those such as plumbers, electricians, cable layers, gas fitters, painters and decorators, that the duty to manage has been introduced to protect. The duty seeks to ensure that asbestos in most premises will be located, recorded and managed. Then, those who may disturb it are informed of its location so they can take suitable precautions.
Some Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) are more vulnerable to damage and more likely to give off fibres than others. In general, the materials which contain a high percentage of asbestos are more easily damaged. The list above is roughly in order of ease of fibre release (with the highest potential fibre release first). Sprayed coatings, lagging and insulating boards are more likely to contain blue or brown asbestos. Asbestos insulation and lagging that contain up to 85% asbestos are most likely to give off fibres. Working with asbestos insulating boards can result in equally high fibre release if power tools are used. On the other hand, asbestos cement contains only 10%-15% asbestos. The asbestos is tightly bound into the cement and the material will only give off fibres if it is badly damaged or broken.
All those who have responsibility for the maintenance and/or repair of non-domestic premises have duties under this regulation. The extent of legal duty is determined by the terms of the tenancy agreement or contract that applies, and in the absence of any such agreement, on the degree of control the party has over the premises.
The duty holder may well be the landlord or tenant depending on the circumstances of the case. In some cases responsibility could be shared between two or more parties.
The regulation also includes a duty to cooperate, which applies widely. This will, for example, require a landlord to gain access to a building surveyor or architect who had plans which show information on the whereabouts of asbestos would be expected to make these available to the duty holder at a reasonable cost.
The duty applies to all non-domestic premises. This includes all commercial, public and industrial premises. It will also apply to common parts of domestic premises, for example stairwells, lift shafts and corridors in a block of flats.
Some ceiling tiles
Certain textured coatings
Bitumen roofing material
Vinyl or thermoplastic floor tiles
Moulded or preformed lagging (used in thermal insulation of pipes and boilers)
Paper and paper products (used for insulation of electrical equipment and fire-proof facing)
Asbestos cement products
The new duty to manage will require the duty holder:
• To take reasonable steps to find asbestos in the premises and assess the condition of these materials
• Presume that materials do contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not
• Prepare a record of the location and condition of these materials and assess the risk from them
• Prepare and implement a plan to manage these risks
• Provide information on the location and condition of the material to anyone who is liable to disturb it
Not necessarily. The regulation requires you to take 'reasonable steps' to find asbestos in your premises. There are different types of inspections/surveys that could be undertaken. The regulation calls for a proportionate approach and will only require a substantial survey where the risk warrants it. In many cases, for example, a small shop where there is very little maintenance work, a simple walk through inspection will be suitable. Presuming any material, unless it can be proved otherwise, contains asbestos, noting its location and condition will be enough. If the situation changed and work that would disturb the material needed to be carried out, then testing would need to be undertaken.
In other situations, a full survey may be needed; testing any suspected material and then managing the risk as required. For example, in a factory where forklifts etc. bump into walls, certain areas that contain asbestos would release fibres daily. A laboratory test to determine any asbestos material in that area is likely to be required in such a case.
For most premises it will be a combination of these that will be most suitable. A hospital for example has buildings will all sorts of uses; a ward, for example, would need a thorough survey with testing whereas a store cupboard with limited access would only need a walk through inspection.
The regulation is not a duty to survey. Any survey will only be a step towards managing any asbestos, and a poor or inappropriate survey could prove to be worse than no survey at all.
The regulation is part of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2006, which are set out in the statutory instrument (SI 2002/2675). The SI is available from Her Majesty's Stationary Office and a copy can be downloaded from their website. More detailed advice on the legal requirements is provided in a new Approved Code of Practice (LI27), the management of asbestos in non-domestic premises.
There is an updated free leaflet available introducing the new duty - A short guide to managing asbestos in premises - INDG 223 (revision 3). There is also more detailed guidance - A comprehensive guide to managing asbestos in premises - HSG227. All of these publications are available from HSE Books on 07187 881165 or online at www.hsebooks.co.uk
Further support is provided by HSE's Info line either by phone on 08701 545500 or by e- mail at email@example.com
This website is regularly updated to reflect news on the regulations and additional advice on how to comply with the new duty to manage.
The duty requires that you make information on the location and condition of the asbestos available to anyone liable to work on it or disturb it. Any employees involved in building maintenance work and any contractors working on the premises should also be told where it is and that there are potential risks to their health if they disturb it.
It may be necessary to inform anyone installing cables, computer equipment, telephones etc. as they could disturb asbestos during their work. They should also be informed of the possibility of coming across any hidden asbestos containing materials which might not have been recorded.
If it is necessary to remove asbestos then for most work with asbestos insulation, asbestos coating and asbestos insulating board it will have to be carried out by an HSE licensed contractor such as Asguard Ltd.
If you have any questions about asbestos and its safe removal, call Asguard Ltd on
No, asbestos is only a risk to health when in a poor condition or disturbed, when it releases fibres. Examples of poor condition would be where asbestos lagging is hanging off pipe work or where an asbestos insulating board is broken with debris on the floor. Two main ways disturbance could occur is through maintenance work or workplace activities that repeatedly damage that material e.g. a trolley or a forklift truck that scrapes against asbestos.
Where damage to the asbestos is minor e.g. a crack in the material, it may be practical to repair, seal it and leave it in place if it is not going to be disturbed.
Asbestos that is in a good condition and in a location where it will not be disturbed should be left in place and correctly managed. Anyone who would be likely to come into contact with the material must be notified of its presence.
It should be remembered that removal of asbestos in good condition, that is not going to be disturbed, would give rise to unnecessary risk and expense.