What do I need to know about asbestos?
Asbestos is a natural mineral used primarily for insulation and fireproofing. There are three main types of asbestos
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a natural mineral used primarily for insulation and fireproofing. There are three main types of asbestos:
Chrysotile (also called serpentine or white asbestos);
Amosite (also called grunerite or brown asbestos);
Crocidolite (also called riebeckite or blue asbestos).
However, they cannot be identified purely by their colour.
Why is it hazardous to health?
Asbestos-related diseases are currently responsible for over 3,000 deaths per year in Britain. There are usually long delays between first exposure to asbestos and the onset of disease, which can vary between 15 and 60 years. Disturbing asbestos can release small fibres into the air. Inhaling these fibres can cause fatal diseases. Tiny fibres can pass into the lower parts of the lung and may work their way through the lung lining, potentially causing:
- Asbestosis or fibrosis (scarring) of the lungs;
Mesothelioma (a cancer of the inner lining of the chest wall or abdominal cavities).
What are the legislative requirements concerning asbestos in the workplace?
On 6th April 2012, the revised Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR) came into effect. The original regulations strengthened overall worker protection by clearly defining exposure limits and making training for those who manage, or work directly, with asbestos mandatory. The new revision takes into account the European Commissions view the the UK had not fully implemented, the EU directive on exposure to Asbestos (Directive 2009/148/EC).
What guidance is available?
To raise awareness of the duty to manage, and to promote effective compliance, the following HSE guidance is available:
- An Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) has been introduced to support Regulation 4 of CAR. ‘Managing and working with Asbestos’ (L143) gives advice on how to comply with the requirements.
- A guidance booklet, ‘A comprehensive guide to managing asbestos’ (HSG227) is aimed at those duty holders in more complex organisations.
- A free leaflet, A short guide to managing asbestos in premises is aimed at those with smaller, less complex premises.
- HSG264 Asbestos: The Survey Guide - a guide for surveyors and Duty Holders. This guide provides a clear picture for both surveyors and duty-holders as to the surveys role in effective management.
- Asbestos Essentials; guidance on specific tasks
The duty to manage will require those in control of premises to:
- Take reasonable steps to find asbestos in the premises and assess the condition of these materials.
- Presume that materials do contain asbestos, unless there is strong evidence that they do not.
- Prepare a record of the location and condition of these materials and assess the risk from them.
- Prepare and implement a plan to manage those risks.
- Provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.
An asbestos management consultancy should provide you with the following:
- A management review looking at all aspects of asbestos management and an action plan for compliance.
- A survey to understand if and where you have asbestos in your premises.
- An Asbestos Management System to enable you to effectively meet the requirements of asbestos regulations and to have comprehensive information about asbestos in your premises.
- Condition assessments to regularly check the condition of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
- Training for personnel at all levels, from identification of ACMs to management of asbestos in your premises.
It is important to remember that regulations state that you have a duty to manage, and not merely to survey.
This guide is of a general nature; specific advice can be obtained from Assurity Consulting by calling tel. 01403 269375 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org