Understanding Responsibility of Asbestos Management and Safety

It is important to understand the legalities surrounding asbestos, its location within any building and the responsibilities over who manages it, if you are in charge of a building. Any person who has the responsibility of a building that is found to contain asbestos has a ‘duty to manage’ that asbestos. These responsibilities fall under the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012. This 2012 regulation changed the law surrounding the management of asbestos within any building, and if you are in charge and responsible, you should be aware of how best to manage and remove asbestos where necessary.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations was created in order to establish a new ‘control limit’ of exposure to asbestos. This was set at 0.1 fibres per cubic centimetre (f/cm3) of air measured over a four-hour period. This includes all types of asbestos, which is a change from the previous limits which were set higher for certain forms of asbestos such as chrysolite. Instead, this is a new lower limit for all asbestos, regardless of type.

The changes also ensured that there was a lower peak short-term exposure limit (STEL), which is now set at 0.6 f/cm3 in the air. This is measured over a 10-minute period of time.

One of the other biggest changes to asbestos regulations brought in with CAR is that of the ‘duty to manage asbestos’ in non-domestic properties. The individual who is responsible for the building is named as the ‘duty-holder’ and has the responsibility of managing the asbestos in whatever shape and form that takes. Under Regulation 4 of CAR, the duty-holder must take all necessary steps to comply with the law surrounding asbestos management. They must ensure that a risk assessment is carried out to identify the presence of asbestos in a thorough and sufficient manner. Any materials that are thought likely to contain asbestos must be thoroughly checked.

Aside from that all building plans and important information about the history of a building must be taken into consideration, as should the workplace through an inspection. A written plan must be put together that indicates the specific presence, whereabouts, quantities, and specific potential hazards of asbestos present in the building. This should outline the steps that need to be taken, as well as the monitoring of any asbestos and materials containing asbestos.

If management and removal of asbestos is required, this should be properly organised, using the skills of fully licensed asbestos management and removal teams, with experience in the field to ensure that no one is put in harms way during the asbestos removal process. During the entire process every single person using the building must be fully informed of the presence and location of asbestos and materials containing asbestos, as well as the necessary steps to prevent the materials being disturbed prior to removal.

It is vital that you contact a team of asbestos removal specialists to assist you in managing asbestos if you are the duty-holder at a property. Under CAR you have the responsibility of keeping everyone safe from asbestos in that building.

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