Are you an employer? Do you use subcontractors or do you have responsibility for a property such as your office? If the answer to any of these is yes then you have a duty under the Control of Asbestos regulations 2012 (CAR 2012). This responsibility falls under the Health and Safety at work etc. act 1974 (HASAWA)
It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.HASAWA 1974 Part 1 Section 2
The Control of Asbestos regulations 2012 are made up of 35 regulations which detail how asbestos must be managed to meet with the requirements of the HASAWA. The regulations can seem a bit daunting due to the legal language. To help with this there are ACOPs (approved codes of practice) and HSGs (Health and safety guidance) documents available for free on the HSE website. The first of these is L143 Managing and working with asbestos, which explains each part of the regulations in plain English.
In summary the purpose of the Control of Asbestos Regulations is to stop your employees, subcontractors and members of public from being exposed to asbestos fibres.
As an employer or Duty holder, failure to meet this requirement can lead to massive penalties. This can be an improvement notice, prohibition, fine or prosecution leading to a prison sentence. The HSE has responsibility to enforce the regulations and frequently does with fines of many millions of pounds and long prison sentences for the worst offenders.
Where to start?
If you are wondering where to start, training for yourself and your employees is right up there, along with an Asbestos policy for your organisation detailing how you intend to meet the requirements of CAR 2012. This should be included in your Health and Safety Policy.
Asbestos Awareness training is the absolute minimum, this is called Category A training and is designed for any employee who may come into contact with or disturb Asbestos as part of their job role. Potentially cleaners, maintenace staff, electricians, plumbers, painters, IT staff, shopfitters, carpenters, joiners, any buiding trade, this list is not exhaustive.
This does not allow anyone to knowingly work on asbestos.
For those with a Duty of care towards employees or a Duty of maintainence of a property, more comprehensive training may be required which may be UKATA Duty to manage training or BOHS P405 Management of Asbestos in buildings.
How do I know if Asbestos is present?
You either have a building which you occupy or you have employees working on a clients site. How do you know if Asbestos is present?
Quite simply there is no way to know without having the property inspected to locate asbestos. Asbestos has no taste or smell, it is often painted or plastered over and unfortunatley it is rarely labelled although labels do exist to help with the management of asbestos once you have located it.
An Asbestos survey is the usual method, and is carried out on any property usually where contruction started before 2000 when the use of Asbestos had been banned. A survey must be completed by a competant person and the HSE would recommend that the survey is completed by an accredited organisation.
There are three types of Survey, a Management survey, Refurbishment survey or a Demolition survey.
A survey will locate and assess the risk from each ACM (Asbestos containing material)
What if there is Asbestos?
It’s highly likely that any pre-2000 property will contain asbestos. Any property constructed up-to 1985 may contain very high risk products too, Asbestos insulation, sprayed coatings and asbestos insulating boards are very friable (the risk of releasing asbestos fibre into the air) and disturbing them will lead to your employees and others to breathing asbestos fibres in, and the spread of Asbestos (Reg 16 of CAR 2012).
Once Asbestos has been identified Regulation 4 of CAR 2012 the duty to manage applies.
Your Asbestos survey will give recommendations* on how to manage each ACM.
Don’t we just remove Asbestos?
As the previous section said, an Asbestos survey report will include recommendations. These are based on the knowledge and experience of the surveyor. These are just recommendations though.
Depending on the findings of your asbestos survey you will need an Asbestos management plan. As an organisation you should develop a plan utilising information from your new asbestos survey on how you will manage your ACMs and ensure that Asbestos is not disturbed and nobody is exposed to the fibres.
How you do this will have to be decided upon by a competent person within your organisation and regularly updated. This is where relevant training will be required.
As for the question of do you remove, in some cases the ACMS will be in such a poor contition removal will be the only option. In many cases removal is the last resort.