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Asbestos Management in the Workplace

While there are obligations under the Health and Safety At Work etc Act 1974, The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 place responsibilities on owners and occupiers of non-domestic premises to identify any asbestos present and to manage the risk it poses.

The definition of non-domestic premises includes all commercial, public and industrial buildings (including vacant premises/sites and contaminated land), shared parts of domestic premises including housing developments and blocks of flats in 'rented' and 'owner' 'occupied' sectors. Common parts will include roof spaces, stairwells, corridors, yards, outhouses etc.

Gallery of asbestos containing materials

Who has the duty to manage?

Usually the duty to manage will fall to anyone who has the contractual responsibility for maintenance or repair of a non-domestic property. However if there is no responsibility then it will be the person in control of a premises.

What responsibilities does the duty to manage create?

The dutyholder must:

  • Take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, the amount, where it is and what condition it is in should be determined

  • Presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not

  • Produce a record of the location and condition of the asbestos containing materials – or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos

  • Assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from any materials identified

  • Prepare a plan that sets out how the risks from these materials will be managed

  • Take the necessary steps to implement the plan

  • Periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements to act on it so that the plan remains relevant and up-to-date; and

  • Provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on them or disturb them

There is also a requirement on anyone to co-operate as far as is necessary to allow the dutyholder to comply with the above requirements.

How can Dutyholders comply?

There are three main steps:

  • Find out whether the premise contains asbestos, and, if so, where it is and what condition it is in. If in any doubt, materials must be presumed to contain asbestos
  • Assess the risk

  • Make a planto manage that risk and act on it

There are some basic principles to remember:

  • Asbestos is only dangerous when disturbed. If it is safely managed and contained, it does not present a health hazard

  • Don’t remove asbestos unnecessarily – removing it can be more dangerous than leaving it in place and simply managing it

  • Not all asbestos materials present the same risk. The measures that need to be taken for controlling the risks from materials such as pipe insulation are different from those needed in relation to asbestos cement

Don’t assume you need to bring in a specialist in every case for a survey. 

If you are unsure about whether certain materials contain asbestos you can presume they do and treat them as such.

Remember that the duty to manage is all about putting in place practical steps to protect maintenance workers and others from the possible risk of being exposed to asbestos fibres. It is not about removing all asbestos.

You can obtain general advice and guidance from Public Protection

Or

The Health and Safety Executive
Phase 1
Government Buildings
Ty Glas
Llanishen
Cardiff
CF14 5SH
Tel: 029 20 263000

Last Updated: 23/02/2017
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