Asbestos Management – Legal Obligations

You have a duty of care to the people who use and work in your buildings to protect them against exposure to asbestos fibres. As a result, if you fail in this duty you may be prosecuted. The legislation does not aim to achieve removal of all asbestos, and in fact in many cases this will be the least favoured option.

The legislation sets out to remove the likelihood of exposure to asbestos fibres. By having clear records of location and condition as well as established asbestos management programmes. Including regular inspections in addition to updated risk assessments, which will prompt required remedial action.

Duty to Manage Asbestos

In November 2006 the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) covering regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 came into force, replacing all earlier codes of practice. This ACOP is substantively unchanged and places a legal duty on employers to assess the risk of asbestos within their properties and to take action to manage it.

Who has a duty to manage asbestos?

A wide range of people potentially have obligations under this regulation, including employers and the self-employed. Including those who have responsibilities for maintaining or repairing non-domestic premises. In addition to those who own the premises, whether they are occupied or vacant.

The legislation on asbestos is quite clear. From November 2006 if you own, lease or manage a commercial building you have a legal responsibility. You must take reasonable steps to establish and record the location and condition of asbestos within the fabric and structure of your building.

The essential requirements of the Duty to Manage include:

  • Finding materials which contain asbestos
  • Assessing the risk of anyone being exposed to these materials
  • Making a written record of the location and the condition of these materials. Keeping the record up to date and available to anyone who may disturb them
  • Repairing or removing any materials which may release fibres
  • Monitoring the condition of the materials.

Many insurance companies now require evidence of compliance with regulation 4 prior to policy renewal.

Many commercial buildings have had asbestos in their structure and this has laid undisturbed and low risk for decades. Unless major refurbishments or demolition are planned, then the risk will continue to be small. There is a real risk to unsuspecting contractors who may drill or cut the material. It is illegal to put these people at risk. Keep your asbestos records up to date and available.

Zeras Industries offers a complete solution to the management of asbestos.