What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral which has been mined over the years because of its beneficial properties in particular its resistance to heat and thermal insulation properties.

There are three principal types of asbestos –

  • chrysotile or white asbestos (the most commonly used type),
  • crocidolite or blue asbestos (often used in sprayed form as insulation),
  • amosite or brown asbestos (often used in pipe lagging and asbestos insulating board).

Why is asbestos dangerous?

The fibres in asbestos are made up of needle-like crystals can, if inhaled into the respirators system can get into the lung tissue and may even pierce the lung scraping against the chest wall, causing inflammation of the outer lung lining and the inside of the lung causing diseases, which can be fatal.

Currently around 1.5 million commercial buildings in the UK are believed to contain asbestos materials; this does not include public buildings such as hospitals or schools.

What contains asbestos?

Asbestos has at one time been added to most manufactured building products among the most common are sprayed insulation; Thermal Pipe & Boiler lagging, Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB), bitumen felts; mastics, putty & sealants; reinforced plastics; ropes, cloth & yarn; profile sheets, guttering, down pipes, Heat pads; floor tiles; textured coatings; paper & cardboard; Flash guards & fuses in electrical systems. It was even used in gas masks, cigarette filters and artificial snow!

Older appliances such as safes, fume cupboards, washing machines, cookers and hair dryers may also contain asbestos.

Who's responsible for managing asbestos?

Anyone who has responsibility for the maintenance and/or repair of non-domestic premises is a dutyholderas defined in Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. For the majority  he dutyholder will be the employer.

What are my legal obligations as a building owner regards to asbestos?

Removing asbestos from all buildings is impractical and unnecessary, and the legislation recognises this. Instead, there is an obligation on the owner or landlord to ‘manage’ the buildings for which he has responsibility. This may involve commissioning an Asbestos Survey. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012) in Particular Reg 4 gives specific guidance on who the duty holder is for buildings and how asbestos should be managed.

The duty holder must find out if, where, in what quantities and condition asbestos materials are present within the building. A written plan must then be prepared detailing how the asbestos materials will be managed, this should be implemented, reviewed and updated on a regular basis. Employees, contractors and emergency services – should be informed of the plan.

Abbey Contracting limited can assist you through your obligations and recommend cost-effective action to ensure that you manage any asbestos you have cost effectively & safely.

What do duty holders need to know about using contractors?

Dutyholders need to check that any contractors likely to disturb asbestos are trained and competent for any work undertaken. Licensed contractors must be used for work involving asbestos insulation, AIB and asbestos coatings.

Those responsible for managing asbestos on the premises have a key role in briefing contractors,they should ensure that contractors are provided with all recorded information on the location and condition of ACMs.

What’s involved with the removal of asbestos?

Asbestos removal is one of the ‘Licensed’ industries in the UK along with Nuclear and Explosives and is an extremely specialised and skilled occupation. Asbestos removal must only be undertaken by companies which are licensed and fully qualified to do so. There are penalties if you, as a building owner or landlord, fail to appoint an organisation with the compulsory credentials.

What’s happens to asbestos waste?

All asbestos waste is double bagged, first in a red bag, clearly labelled as hazardous material, then placed into a clear bag.

Waste is transported either by van, lorry or skip to a landfill site licensed by the Environment Agency for the disposal of hazardous waste, including asbestos.

This is done in compliance with the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 under the Waste Consignment note system and our Duty of Care.