Asbestos: The Duty to Manage

Ged McNicholl
Over 4000 people in the UK die each year from asbestos related illnesses, twice as many who die on our roads, reinforcing the importance for duty holders to manage asbestos within their premises.

On 6th April 2012 the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR2012) came into force, updating previous asbestos legislation (CAR2006) to fully implement the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos (Directive 2009/148/EC). The principal change to the legislation is the introduction of Notifiable Non-licensed Work, a new category of work with asbestos.

The importation and use of asbestos containing materials was banned in 1999 (blue and brown asbestos banned in 1985), but asbestos remains present in many UK buildings constructed prior to 2000. Because of this, asbestos remains a significant risk to building occupants, visitors and contractors.

Duty to Manage Asbestos

CAR2012 places explicit duties on employers and those with responsibility for premises and projects to manage asbestos so that people are not exposed. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that "if you're responsible for maintenance of non-domestic premises, you have a 'duty to manage' the asbestos in them, to protect anyone using or working in the premises from the risks to health that exposure to asbestos causes".

Duty holders are required to: 

  • Identify, assess and record the condition and location of asbestos-containing materials (ACM)

  • Keep a register of ACMs, recording all necessary details

  • Routinely inspect the condition of ACMs and keep these records up to date

  • Prepare and implement an action plan on how they shall manage asbestos

  • Ensure that asbestos information is made available to all required parties

  • Ensure that employees have appropriate levels of asbestos training

Approved Code of Practice

In July 2013 HSE launched a consultation on the changes to the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) for CAR2012. The new ACOP consolidates previous ACOPs – L143 'Work with materials containing asbestos' and L127 'The management of asbestos in non-domestic premises'.

The ACOP provides practical guidance on how duty holders should comply with legislation and meet their legal obligations. It also further addresses training requirements under Regulation 10 to ensure that employers understand their duties to provide information, instruction and training for employees.

The Asbestos Survey

There are two main types of asbestos survey as outlined in HSG264 Asbestos: The Survey Guide. These are the Management Survey and the Refurbishment & Demolition Surveys (replacing type 1, 2 and 3 asbestos surveys under MDHS100).

Management Surveys (replacing type 1 & 2 surveys) are required to enable a duty holder to identify and locate reasonably accessible ACMs within their premises, which may impact on the operations and maintenance activity within properties.

Refurbishment & Demolition Surveys (replacing type 3) are intrusive in nature and are required to establish whether ACMs are present within the structure of the building, beyond the scope of a Management Survey. Refurbishment & Demolition Surveys are carried out prior to intrusive and destructive works, ranging from maintenance activity through to full demolition.

HSG264 promotes two-way communication between the client and the asbestos surveyor and challenges both parties to take full consideration of survey requirements, emphasising the paramount importance of effective survey planning.

Works with Asbestos

CAR2012 introduces a new category of asbestos works, Notifiable Non-licensed Work (NNLW).

There are now three categories of work:

Licensed Asbestos work

Work which must be carried out by a HSE licensed asbestos remediation contractor. These works require the statutory 14 day notification to the relevant enforcing authority prior to works commencing.

Notifiable, Non-Licensed Asbestos Work (this is the new one)

Work with non-licensable materials that must be notified to the relevant enforcing authority (any time prior to work commencing). Contractors do not require a licence to work on materials under this category, but must provide health surveillance and keep health records for operatives to meet the requirements of the regulations.

Non-Licensed Asbestos Work

Work with non-licensable materials which does not need to be notified and does not require health surveillance for operatives. Contractors do not require a licence to work on materials under this category.

The presence of asbestos in buildings impacts on day to day operations and planned project or maintenance works, incurring costs and time. Investing the time to get it right in the first place will prevent the potentially disastrous time wastage, reputational damage and health implications caused by not managing asbestos correctly.


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