Although it's now illegal to use asbestos in the construction or refurbishment of any premises, thousands of tonnes of asbestos was used during the 1950's and 1980's - much of which is still in place.
If it's in good condition and is not likely to be disturbed or damaged, there is no risk. But if it's likely to be disturbed, or is already damaged, it can become a danger to peoples health.
Who is at risk?
- Anyone who uses your premises, who disturbs asbestos which has deteriorated or been damaged
- Anyone who drills, saws, cuts or otherwise breaks into the fabric of a building, without first checking for the presence of asbestos.
The disease can take many years to develop, so you and your employees will not be immediately aware of a change to someone's health after breathing in asbestos. Therefore, exposure to asbestos should always be avoided to reduce the risk of developing an illness in later life.
What does asbestos look like?
How to manage asbestos
There are three essential steps:
- Find out whether the premises contains asbestos, and, if so, where it is and what condition it is in. If in doubt, materials must be presumed to contain asbestos
- Assess the risk
- Make a plan to manage that risk and act on it.
Find out more about managing the risk of asbestos and who the duty holder is.
You can also access HSE publications and leaflets for further details by calling 01787 881165 or visiting the HSE Books website (external link).
Legislation and HSE guidance
- SI Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations SI 2006/2739
- L 127 The Management of Asbestos in non-domestic premises (2006)
- L 143 Work with Materials Containing Asbestos (2006) Approved Code of Practice ISBN 0 7176 62063
- MDHS 100 Surveying sampling and assessment of asbestos-containing materials (2001) ISBN 0 7176 2076X
- HSG 227 A comprehensive guide to managing asbestos in premises ISBN 0 7176 23815.
HSE leaflets and posters
- INDG 223 (rev3) A short guide to managing asbestos in premises ISBN 0 7176 25648
- INDG 118 Asbestos alert for building maintenance, repair and refurbishment workers ISBN 0 7176 12090
- INDG 289 Working with asbestos in buildings ISBN 0 7176 16975.