If you own, occupy, manage or have responsibilities for non-domestic premises you will either have a legal duty to manage the risk from asbestos or a duty to co-operate with whoever manages that risk.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Breathing in asbestos fibres can lead to asbestos-related diseases, mainly cancers of the lungs and chest lining. Asbestos is only a risk to health if asbestos fibres are released into the air and breathed in. Past exposure to asbestos currently kills 3000 people a year in Great Britain. There is no cure for asbestos-related diseases.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who disturbs asbestos that has deteriorated or been damaged and is releasing fibres, can be at risk. In fact, anyone whose work involves drilling, sawing or cutting into the fabric of premises could potentially be at risk.
Where is asbestos found in buildings?
- sprayed asbestos and asbestos loose packing - generally used as fire breaks in ceiling voids
- moulded or preformed lagging - generally used in thermal insulation of pipes and boilers
- sprayed asbestos - generally used as fire protection in ducts, firebreaks, panels, partitions, soffit boards, ceiling panels and around structural steel work
- insulating boards used for fire protection, thermal insulation, partitioning and ducts
- some ceiling tiles
- millboard, paper and paper products used for insulation of electrical equipment. Asbestos paper has also been used as a fireproof facing on wood fireboard;
- asbestos cement products, which can be fully or semi-compressed into flat or corrugated sheets. Corrugated sheets are largely used as roofing and wall cladding. Other asbestos cement products include gutters, rainwater pipes and water tanks
- certain textured coatings
- bitumen roofing material
- vinyl or thermoplastic floor tiles
Find out if asbestos is present
Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM's) may be present if the building was constructed or refurbished before blue and brown asbestos were banned in 1985. In some cases ACMs, such as asbestos cement, were used up until 1999.
Repair and removal
Some damaged asbestos can be made safe by repairing it and either sealing or enclosing it to prevent further damage. If this can be done safely, mark the area after it has been repaired and make sure it is on your list of asbestos locations.
If asbestos is likely to be disturbed it will release fibres. If it cannot be easily repaired and protected, you should have it removed. This work must be carried out by someone trained and competent to carry out the task.