Asbestos on site – a simple guide
Questions raised during our recent webinar – many questions have been amalgamated or consolidated.
Those listed below are intended to cover the issues commonly raised.
1. If a person has been exposed in a minimal way, how likely is damage to health. Are we somewhat immune?
One of the main issue with exposure to asbestos is that resultant ill health may not become apparent for a considerable period after the exposure. Human beings are not immune, and it is always best to be cautious and always ensure that you have appropriate protective equipment and methods in place should exposure be unavoidable.
2. Does removal of asbestos cement coverings from have to be carried out by a licenced contractor?
Short duration work which is infrequent in nature and does not involve potentially damaging sheets and releasing particles may be possible, however if the work is extensive it should be carried out by a licenced contractor. There will also need to be controls in place to deal with any subsequent transport and disposal of the material.
3. For short duration work which does not require a licenced contractor what arrangements are in place for disposal?
Local authorities may well have arrangements for disposal of small quantities of materials, typically sheet roofing, where generated by householders carrying out DIY projects, however the treatment post removal, sealing in bags / containers during transport and the ultimate disposal may be subject to local requirements. It is best to check with the Local Authority before commencing works.
4. If asbestos has been identified and removed can clearance certificates be relied upon, of if the works are carried out by an unlicensed contractor or owner how can a site be considered to be ‘clean’?
As with any works where licenced contractors are certifying there should be some reassurance that the work has been carried out correctly, however if in any doubt or if there is evidence of residual asbestos then further cleaning will be required.
5. If the presence of Asbestos is identified, for example in panels behind radiators, but they are not affected by refurbishment work can they be left in place?
In commercial premises the location and use of Asbestos should be determined and recorded in an asbestos register. This should consider the continued use in relation to possible future maintenance, deterioration of the material over time and possible damage to the material by impact, moisture or contaminants. Only where there is not risk of fibres being released should the material remain and even then regular inspection in relation to its condition should be carried out.
6. Are there HSE proformas for Asbestos risk registers and do notice plates have to be fixed in close proximity to identified asbestos?
There is an extensive range of guidance published by the Health & safety Executive to cover the responsibilities of those involved in managing building and working with asbestos. The information can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/index.htm
7. How can those managing premises which may contain asbestos demonstrate that they have taken the necessary steps to identify asbestos and assess the potential impact?
Again this is best achieved by following accepted guidance, adhering to the requirements of regulations and seeking professional advice. The best, concise resource is the Health & safety Executive.
The webinar, “Asbestos on Site, a simple guide” was developed using guidance available to the industry, particularly that provided by the Health & Safety Executive and with due consideration of the appropriate legislation.
This webinar is not intended to be a comprehensive guide and viewing this webinar in whole or part should not be considered the full extent of the awareness training required for those who may encounter asbestos.