Asbestos was extensively used as a building material in the UK from the 1950s through to the mid-1980s. It was used for a variety of purposes and incorporated into thousands of building products. Any building constructed before 2000 (houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals etc) can contain asbestos. Asbestos materials in good condition are safe unless asbestos fibres become airborne, which happens when materials are damaged or disturbed.

Did you know that every week on average…20 tradesmen…6 electricians…4 plumbers…and 8 joiners...die as a result of this hidden killer?

Did you know that far more people die as a result of exposure to asbestos than die as a result of road traffic accidents?

Why is asbestos dangerous?

When asbestos fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases which are responsible for over 4000 deaths a year in the UK. There are four main diseases caused by asbestos: mesothelioma (always fatal), lung cancer (almost always fatal), asbestosis (not always fatal but debilitating) and diffuse pleural thickening (not fatal).

Working on or near damaged asbestos-containing materials or breathing in asbestos fibres, which may be many hundreds of times that of ‘background’ levels can increase your chances of getting an asbestos-related disease.

Asbestos related diseases won't affect you immediately but later on in life, so there is a need for you to protect yourself now to prevent you contracting an asbestos-related disease in the future. It is also important to remember that people who smoke and are also exposed to asbestos fibres are at a much greater risk of developing lung cancer.

Are you at risk?

If you work in any of the following occupations, and are working on a building built or refurbished before 2000, you may come in to contact with asbestos:

  • Heating and ventilation engineers
  • Demolition workers
  • Carpenters and joiners
  • Plumbers
  • Roofing contractors
  • Painters and decorators
  • Plasterers • Construction workers
  • Fire and burglar alarm installers
  • Shop fitters
  • Gas fitters
  • Computer installers
  • General maintenance staff, e.g. caretakers
  • Telecommunications engineers
  • Building surveyors
  • Cable layers
  • Electricians

The duty to manage asbestos

The duty to manage is directed at those who manage non-domestic premises: the people with responsibility for protecting others who work in such premises, or use them in other ways, from the risks to ill health that exposure to asbestos causes. It is a legal responsibility, and the HSE regularly prosecutes those who don’t comply.

What is the duty?

The duty to manage asbestos is contained in Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations. It requires the person who has the duty (the "dutyholder") to:

  • take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, its amount, where it is and what condition it is in;
  • presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not;
  • make, and keep up-to-date, a record of the location and condition of the asbestos containing materials - or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos;
  • assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the materials identified;
  • prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed;
  • take the necessary steps to put the plan into action;
  • periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements to act on it so that the plan remains relevant and up-to-date; and
  • provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.

There is also a requirement on anyone to co-operate as far as is necessary to allow the dutyholder to comply with the above requirements.

We can help you…

M & W Property Services can help you comply with these complex regulations wherever you are in the UK, ensuring you stay safe, and legal.

M & W’s highly experienced asbestos professionals can help you by providing the following specialist services:

  • Asbestos management plans
  • Asbestos surveys to HSE document HSG264
  • Sample analysis by UKAS accredited laboratory
  • Comprehensive & detailed asbestos survey reports & registers
  • Web-hosting of asbestos registers • Computerised asbestos management databases
  • Scoping, tendering & managing asbestos removal work
  • Asbestos awareness training for operatives

Our personnel are trained and certified to British Occupational Hygiene Society specialist asbestos standards, and our services are fully insured.