Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Asbestos Do you know your responsibiities?
Posted by David Cant on December 10, 2013

asbestos surveys birminghamWhat is Asbestos?

A fibrous, crystalline mineral, asbestos has been used in construction projects since the late 1800s. Relatively strong and resistant to fire, asbestos seemed to be the perfect insulation material for buildings where it was often mixed with cement for additional strength.

The flexible applications of asbestos meant that it was used extensively in homes, offices and factories even appearing in Artex ceilings, bath panels and concrete water tanks. More commonly asbestos is found in sprayed coatings, insulation boards and lagging. In early 2000, tests revealed that asbestos was even present in certain brands of children’s crayons.

Here in the UK, the use of asbestos in new construction projects has been banned since 1999.

What are the dangers of asbestos?

Asbestos has been shown to cause cancer in humans, particularly those who have inhaled fibres and dust over long periods of time. This exposure can lead to a condition known as asbestosis, which can in turn increase the risk of developing lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Asbestosis is most prevalent in workers who were exposed to the substance as part of construction projects that involved the mineral. There still remains a significant risk to workers on sites built before the 1999 ban where dust particles may contain asbestos fibres. Asbestosis is a risk to all persons working on a site however; A recent inquest heard how a teacher died from asbestos-related illness after breathing in particles of the substance as she pinned students’ work to the classroom wall.

According to the HSE, over 4500 people die from asbestos-related illnesses every year. As a result, many building owners choose to have the material removed from their properties wherever possible.

Your responsibilities when working with asbestos

Owners (or maintainers) of properties that may contain asbestos have a ‘duty to manage’ the material to limit the health risks posed to people using the building. This means auditing the site for the presence of asbestos and monitoring for damage that could increase the risk of exposure.

Site owners will also need to ensure that work carried out onsite is completed by a licensed contractor. Under the terms of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, there should be an assumption that asbestos is present on the site unless a site survey has confirmed otherwise. Following a survey you may decide that the work can be completed without the assistance of a licensed contractor – your business may still need to report the work to the relevant enforcing authority in advance though.

You also need to keep records of all work undertaken to create an audit trail in case of future compensation claims. Staff working with asbestos must be under routine monitoring by a doctor for signs of asbestosis or similar too. Finally full awareness training must be provided to all staff who may be exposed to asbestos whilst working on your site.

Failure to meet your obligations places lives at risk and could land your business with a significant financial penalty.

Getting help

Before beginning construction or maintenance of a pre-2000 building, your business must arrange a thorough asbestos survey to assess the presence of the material, its type and condition. Ultimately the only way you can meet your legal obligations to workers and site users is by knowing the risks present.

Veritas Consulting offer a range of surveys designed to help your business remain fully compliant with relevant legislation, and to protect your employees from life threatening asbestos exposure. Call us today on 0800 1488 677 for a no obligation chat about asbestos surveys, training and how we can help you.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Asbestos Surveys

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    […] Asbestos dangers explained by Veritas Consulting who can help with Asbestos Surveys, Management and Removal. Call 0800 1488 677 for a quote.  […]

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