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What are the asbestos regulations in the UK?

There are legal duties on people responsible for buildings and employees to protect occupants from any asbestos risk. If any asbestos risk is known to exist then this risk must be responsibly managed.

The person or organisation (or it may be multiple parties) that is held responsible for these legal duties is known as the Duty Holder. The Duty Holder is defined as the owner of non-domestic premises or the person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of the non-domestic premises.

The responsibility includes the protection of tenants, employees, employees of others, and members of the public. Risks to others may arise for example during any building work.

A landlord renting out a home has responsibilities under these regulations because the home is thus a ‘non-domestic’ premises as part of the landlord’s business.

Control of Asbestos Regulations, 2012 (CAR2012)

This is the main legislation that applies to asbestos in the UK. It covers all industrial and commercial premises, factories, warehouses, offices and shops. The duty also covers public buildings such as hospitals, schools, museums, libraries, leisure centres, churches, and other religious buildings. In addition, premises include road and rail vehicles, vessels, aircraft and offshore installations, as well as structures and installations (such as bridges), street furniture (such as street lighting) etc.

Regulation 4 – Duty to Manage Asbestos in non-domestic premises

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 – Regulation 4 puts the responsibility of ‘duty holders’ (Employers, Building Owners, Landlords and Agents) to manage the risk from Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) within their premises. It also explains what is required of people to co-operate with the duty holder to enable them to comply with the regulation.

Overall Responsibilities

The duty holder’s responsibilities include:

  • Identify asbestos containing materials (ACMs) that are present.
  • Assess the risk posed by ACMs.
  • Prepare a detailed written plan on how to manage the risk of known asbestos materials.
  • Implement the plan.
  • Review and monitor it to ensure compliance.
  • Inform those who need to know of the location and condition of ACMs.

Protecting workers and contractors

The information of all known ACMs must be shared with contractors and other workers who may carry out work on the fabric of the building that could disturb the Asbestos Containing Material.

Protecting employees – a duty within the Health and Safety at Work Act

Through the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 it is law that all employers have a legal duty to prevent their employees’ exposure to asbestos (likewise any other hazards).

In the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, these duties are expanded, requiring employers to assess the risks to the health and safety of their employees. This includes risks from asbestos exposure.

The legal requirement for an Asbestos Management Plan

Regulation 4.8 of CAR2012 sets out the need for an Asbestos Management Plan wherever known asbestos has been found.
Where the assessment shows that asbestos is or is liable to be present in any part of the premises, the Duty Holder must ensure that:

  • A determination of the risk from that asbestos is made.
  • A written plan identifying those parts of the premises concerned is prepared.
  • The measures which are to be taken to manage the risk are specified in the written plan. The duty-holder should ensure that the Asbestos Management Plan is implemented to manage the risks. Within this, an action plan should prioritise the actions identified and give high priority to damaged materials and materials likely to be disturbed. These will need to be repaired, sealed, enclosed protectively, or removed using trained and competent personnel authorised to work on asbestos items.

As a minimum, the Asbestos Management Plan, including records and drawings, should be reviewed every 12 months, or whenever changes such as building use or refurbishments take place.

For those working with asbestos

The Regulations place legal duties on employers responsible for licensable and non-licensable work with asbestos.

Guidance

For further and more detailed information, please refer to L143 Managing and Working With Asbestos, published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l143.htm

The HSE also publishes Asbestos Essentials a Task Manual for Building, Maintenance and Allied Trades of Non-licensed Asbestos Work https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg210.htm

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