Asbestos, what is your duty?

Alex W 2023

Alex Wild
Senior Consultant, Assurity Consulting
18th January 2024

Despite it being over two decades since the final bans on asbestos use in buildings came into force, it is still the biggest cause of workplace related deaths in the UK, and due to the long latency between exposure and symptoms of the disease, exposure to asbestos can go unnoticed or forgotten about until the long-term consequences are realised.

Poor management of asbestos in the workplace is still exposing people to the hazards it poses to their health. The HSE’s website has been updated with a number of excellent and informative resources to support you in keeping those who use your building safe from exposure to asbestos. The resources include:

  • Asbestos management plan and register templates;
  • Campaign assets to share on your channels; and 
  • A video explaining the steps to the duty to manage asbestos in buildings.

A link to the campaign press release is - Keep people safe from future dangers of asbestos, regulator warns | HSE Media Centre

If you are responsible for managing a building constructed or refurbished before 2000, you have a duty to identify the location and condition of any asbestos containing materials (ACM). This is often managed through undertaking an asbestos management survey, which will provide you with a register of ACMs for your property. Your duty does not stop there, it is important to remember that your asbestos survey is just one piece of the puzzle that makes up your asbestos management plan.

So, if you have confirmed that you have some ACMs in your building, what are your next steps? The first thing you should do is make sure that any ACMs that were identified as being in poor condition are made safe through either repair, encapsulation, or removal so that the likelihood of asbestos fibre release is minimised.

To manage your asbestos on an ongoing basis, make sure that everyone who may come into contact with it is aware of where it is, what steps to take so that they can work safely, and to provide adequate training and information about the risk of asbestos.

You should regularly monitor the condition of your ACMs and if there is any change in their condition that could put anyone at risk of exposure to fibres, and make sure that you take appropriate action. It is also important to remember that accidental exposure to your ACMs is always a possibility, so you should have suitable emergency procedures in place.

But what if you don’t operate a building but manage staff who may work in buildings containing asbestos?

  • Do you ask those operating in these buildings for details of their asbestos register?
  • Have you provided your staff with suitable training, so that they know how to identify materials that could potentially contain asbestos?
  • Do you provide your staff with adequate protective equipment?

The asbestos management team at Assurity Consulting specialise in the ongoing management of asbestos. They can support you in putting a suitable plan in place, provide you with regular condition assessments of your ACMs, and deliver RoSPA accredited training to you and your team, to help maintain a safe working environment. You can contact us here for more information.