Have you recently discovered asbestos and need to have it removed? You will probably have heard about the dangers of asbestos and be wary about dealing with it. It’s true that asbestos must be handled very carefully and is subject to strict regulations. But, who does the control of asbestos regulations apply to?
The Health & Safety Executive states that:
“The duty to manage asbestos is directed at those who manage non-domestic premises: the people with responsibility for protecting others who work in such premises, or use them in other ways, from the risks to ill-health that exposure to asbestos causes.”
The duty to manage covers all non-domestic premises and includes all industrial, commercial or public buildings such as factories, warehouses, offices, shops, hospitals and schools.
Some common areas in domestic buildings also fall into this category. Such as foyers, corridors, lifts, staircases, roof spaces, gardens and yards in purpose-built flats or houses converted into flats. (This would not include the individual flats themselves).
What Is The Duty?
The duty to manage asbestos is contained in regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It requires the person who has the duty (ie the ‘duty holder’) to among other things:
- take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, its amount, where it is and what condition it is in.
- presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not.
Who Is The Duty Holder?
“The duty holder is the owner of the non-domestic premises or the person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises.” This responsibility should be detailed in an explicit agreement such as a tenancy agreement or contract.
The extent of the duty will depend on the individual agreement. Depending on if the building is occupied by one leaseholder or a number, the agreement might be for either the owner or leaseholder(s) to take on the full duty for the whole building. Sometimes, there might be an agreement to pass the responsibilities to a managing agent.
In some cases, there is no tenancy agreement and no specification to who has responsibility for the maintenance or repair of the building. In these circumstances, the duty is placed on whoever has control of the premises, or part of the premises. Often this will be the owner.
What Does This Mean?
If you have discovered asbestos then it is advisable to contact a professional. They will then be able to advise you on the best way to manage the asbestos.
If you have already arranged for a contractor to look at the suspected asbestos then it is very important that they are qualified to do the job.
This will require them to:
- Have survey knowledge, and know the risks in surveying
- Have training and experience, and recognise their limitations
- Use an effective quality management system
- Should be able to demonstrate independence, impartiality and integrity
- Do their work in accordance with good practice guidance, eg as in HSG264
Is Your Asbestos Contractor Licensed?
Any company which carries out asbestos testing, removal or management of high-risk materials is required by law to possess an asbestos licence.
HSE is changing the licence renewal process and the old ASB1 and ASB4 forms have been replaced.
Licence holders must now support their application with an upfront submission of evidence, submitted electronically. This evidence can then be assessed by HSE and a decision on the licence renewal will likely to be made without a visit to the premises.
You can check if your contractor is on the asbestos licence list here.
If you are concerned about the presence of asbestos in a building which you work in or are responsible for you can get in touch with WeldLag.
WeldLag has over 30 years of industry experience and was awarded its first Health and Safety Executive Licence in 1984.
You can call us on 01772 981239 or email email@example.com