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Asbestos is still a potential risk to employees and customers in modern buildings. The substance is still being discovered and having to be managed in commercial premises.
Asbestos has been banned for over 20 years in the UK, but prior to this, the substance was used extensively in construction and insulation. It can be found in boiler rooms, ceiling tiles, asbestos lagging and many other places.
When asbestos is disturbed, it can release harmful fibres into the air. If inhaled, these fibres can cause serious health problems including lung cancer and asbestosis.
What is an asbestos survey?
An asbestos survey is a thorough inspection of a commercial property to check for the presence of asbestos. The survey will identify where asbestos is located, what condition it is in and how much of a risk it poses.
The survey will also assess the level of asbestos awareness among staff and provide recommendations on how to manage the substance safely.
Asbestos surveys are a legal requirement for many commercial properties in the UK. The type of survey required will depend on the age and condition of the property, as well as the type of business that is being conducted there.
Any building built before 2000 must have an asbestos survey carried out. Asbestos surveys are also essential for:
- Non-Domestic Buildings
- Public Parts of Domestic Buildings Such as Shared Facilities
- Construction Sites
Legal guidelines are outlined in The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
An asbestos risk assessment must be carried out by a competent person if there are any changes to the premises that could disturb asbestos.
If asbestos is found in a commercial property, it is the responsibility of the owner or occupier to ensure that it is managed safely. An asbestos management survey can help you to work out what steps you might take.
What Happens If Asbestos is Found?
If asbestos is found in your commercial property, you must:
- Stop work immediately if asbestos is disturbed or damaged
- Do not try to remove asbestos yourself – this should only be done by a licensed asbestos removal contractor
- Make sure the area around the asbestos is well ventilated
- Contact an asbestos removal contractor to remove the asbestos safely
You should also:
- Inform your employees about the asbestos and where it is located
- Restrict access to the area where asbestos is located
- Make sure that only trained staff are allowed to work in the area
- Monitor the condition of asbestos regularly
Asbestos removal is a complex and dangerous process. It should only be carried out by a licensed asbestos removal contractor.
Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 outlines how you might manage the asbestos found on your premises to ensure that it is not a risk to anyone on site.
If left undisturbed, asbestos may still be safe to be around. HSE outlines the “control limit” for asbestos, a level that should not be exceeded. “ At the moment, the control limit is 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre of air (0.1 f/cm3). The control limit is not a ‘safe’ level and work activities involving asbestos should be designed to be as far below the control limit as possible. HSE has progressively tightened the control limit since 1987.”
For peace of mind, a full asbestos survey is essential. Robinsons Facilities Services can offer risk assessments and asbestos surveys to help you establish the risk and keep people safe.
Whose Responsibility is Asbestos in the UK?
In the UK, the responsibility for managing asbestos falls under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The duty to manage asbestos is primarily the responsibility of the person who owns, occupies, manages, or has control over a non-domestic premises.
Employers also have a duty to protect their employees from exposure to asbestos in the workplace under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
In summary, the responsibility for managing asbestos in the UK falls primarily on those who own, occupy, manage or have control over non-domestic premises or common areas of domestic premises that may contain asbestos. It is also the responsibility of employers who have a duty to protect their employees from exposure to asbestos in the workplace.
Working across Yorkshire, we cover North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and South Yorkshire and offer a fast, efficient response time to all breakdowns and repairs. Contact us today, call 01423 226578 or get in touch to see how Robinsons Facilities Services can help.
Asbestos Survey FAQs
It is your responsibility to make sure there has been a survey or risk assessment carried out on older properties. However, if the property has been built in recent years it may not be a requirement.
HSE recommends that companies use surveyors accredited to standard BS EN ISO/IEC 17020 and that “competent” individuals carry out the asbestos survey, which can help you stick to your legal responsibilities.
This depends on where the asbestos is, and the nature of its condition as well as whether it has been disturbed, but it is always a good idea to get regular inspections. Every six months is a good benchmark for asbestos surveys.
If you do not construct an action plan and put it into practice for asbestos then there is a chance of a fine of up to £20,000 and even imprisonment in serious cases.
An asbestos register is a vital document that shows the asbestos containing materials, their location, maintenance, and other crucial details and updates, helping you to manage asbestos safety.
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