Asbestos in the workplace

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Asbestos in the workplace

Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK.

Up until 2000, asbestos was used to lag pipes, provide insulation, or present in floor tiles, sprayed coatings or combined with cement in products, such as roofing materials. This means there may still be asbestos present in many buildings, especially older ones.

This does not automatically mean there is a risk. Generally speaking, asbestos is dangerous when disturbed, by building works, for instance. If fibres are released they can be inhaled and become trapped within the lungs, possibly developing into cancer at a later date. This may well be over 20 years from breathing in fibres.

Eliminating the risk is the best control. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 places a duty on those who manage non-domestic properties to protect those who work there or use the premises from exposure to asbestos and the risk of ill health. Duty holders must:

  • Survey their premises to see if there is any asbestos present. If there is they must identify the amount, its location(s) and condition. Up to dates records of these details must be kept
  • Presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence to the contrary
  • Assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from asbestos and prepare a plan that details how these risks will be managed. This plan must then be put into action and reviewed periodically to ensure it remains up to date and effective
  • Provide information on asbestos to anyone who may work or disturb the asbestos, such as trades people

If you identify asbestos within your property and wish to have it removed, you should contact a licensed contractor. The HSE maintain an up to date list of Asbestos Licence Holders.

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