Do you need an asbestos survey?
It’s more than 20 years since the import and use of all forms of asbestos were banned but thousands of people still die each year from asbestos related conditions as a result of exposure to this very dangerous substance.
If you’re responsible for the maintenance of commercial premises where asbestos is present, even those that are vacant or derelict, you have a ‘duty to manage’ it and when maintenance work is carried out to provide information on the asbestos present to contractors, failure to do so could result in a significant fine or prison sentence.
Around 2500 people in the UK die annually from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the organs caused almost exclusively by the inhalation of asbestos fibres and the HSE estimate that a similar number die from asbestos-related lung cancer. Obviously, it is important that everyone involved in property management and maintenance does all they can to prevent people being affected by exposure to asbestos.
How do you know whether asbestos is present?
If the building was built or refurbished before 2000 there’s a risk of asbestos being present. It was widely used in the UK as insulation and a fire retardant from the 1950s until the import and use of blue and brown asbestos was banned in 1985. White asbestos, thought to be less dangerous, was banned in 1999. Obviously, even in buildings built before this period, refurbishments in the second half of the 21st century may have used asbestos.
What are your obligations?
The HSE recommends that, ‘If no information is available or it is limited, and you suspect asbestos may be present you should have the area surveyed and representative samples of the material you are going to work on analysed. Alternatively, you can assume that any material you need to disturb does contain asbestos and take the appropriate precautions for the highest risk situation.’
If your building does not have asbestos registered we can arrange for one of our approved specialists to carry out a survey and to help you manage asbestos in your premises. To provide accurate information on the location, amount and condition of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). To assess the level of damage or deterioration in the ACMs and whether remedial action is required. To use the survey information to prepare a record of the location of any asbestos, commonly called an asbestos register, and an asbestos plan of the building(s).
If you are planning building work, we can arrange for a demolition and refurbishment survey as part of the project.
If asbestos is present you need to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, which is something Darenth Valley can arrange for you. You need to share this with anyone likely to come into contact with the affected area e.g. maintenance engineers. Most importantly you need to keep anything containing asbestos in good repair or have it sealed or removed, again we can help you with this.
What are the penalties for not managing asbestos?
If you don’t fulfil your obligations, you could face a fine of up to £20 000 or imprisonment for up to 12 months. For a serious breach this could rise to an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison.*
We can help you in your ‘duty to manage’
We have carried out asbestos risk assessments and asbestos removal and management work for many clients. We can help you carry out your ‘duty to manage’ asbestos and keep your buildings and the people who use them happy. Contact Alex for more information.
HSE website has a comprehensive guide to your obligations.
Do our Happy Building Health Check
We’ve identified 12 areas of essential maintenance for keeping commercial property compliant and created a Happy Building Health Check. If compliance is your responsibility download it and check that your building complies.