Who is Responsible for Asbestos in a Building?
If you are responsible for the maintenance and repairs process in a building that may contain asbestos you have a duty to manage that asbestos. This is in relation to the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. A duty holder can cover a number of persons or specific roles, including:
- The owner of a building
- The person responsible for managing a building through a contract or tenancy agreement with the building owner
- The person who is in control of the building without any formal agreement in place with the building owner.
- The owner of a multi-occupancy building that has taken responsibility for all repairs and maintenance issues.
- The owner of a commercial building, no matter the industry or business type.
- The person responsible for common areas of a domestic building, for example, stairwells, lifts, roof spaces and halls
Why Does Asbestos need to be Managed?
When asbestos materials are disturbed (or moved) the fibres are released and this can cause potentially life-changing consequences for those that come into contact with them. Asbestos-related illnesses are usually in the form of lung cancers such as mesothelioma and are diagnosed much later in life, years after a person has come into contact with the material. Around 4,500 people in the UK are killed due to asbestos related diseases each year.
Asbestos was banned as a construction material in the UK in 1999, but workers within construction and maintenance are still at risk in buildings where asbestos is present. This is the case these days within refurbishment and property development projects, where there is a real need to conduct safe asbestos surveys, asbestos management and asbestos removal in the hands of licensed professionals.
Buildings in the UK are still home to three main types of asbestos:
- Crocidolite (Blue Asbestos)
- Amosite (Brown Asbestos)
- Chrysotile (White Asbestos)
All three types of asbestos are dangerous carcinogens and it is important to survey any premises that were built or refurbished before the year 2000 if you are due to conduct any type of work on the property.
What does the Duty to Manage Asbestos Entail?
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 included the duty to manage asbestos risk through the following means:
- Conduct a thorough asbestos survey that identifies whether asbestos containing materials are present in the building
- Survey results should include location of asbestos, quantity and condition.
- Maintain and keep an up-to-date record of asbestos located in your building.
- With the information from the asbestos survey assess the risk.
- Create a detailed plan as to how to manage the asbestos risk – this can include leaving asbestos materials where they are, or removing it completely.
- Take the necessary steps as set out in the asbestos management plan.
- Review and monitor plan during process of management.
- Easily provide information on location and state of present asbestos for any person liable to work around it or disturb it in future
As the duty holder any person that has information relating to asbestos and asbestos containing materials in your building must inform you in order for you to review. Managing asbestos is an important function within any building, ensuring the safety of occupants and any workers present.