Campaigners for asbestos regulation called for a ban on the deadliest forms, (blue and brown), over half a century ago. Despite this, we live in an asbestos filled world and asbestos is not only still killing people – it is the single greatest cause of UK work-related deaths.
Following the new asbestos regulations introduced last year, updated guidance for duty holders has been published. This post gives you the low-down.The main requirements of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 are broadly unchanged from the 2006 asbestos regulations they replaced i.e.:
- The ‘duty to manage’ asbestos. This duty still falls on those responsible for the maintenance and repair of non-domestic premises and requires them to make a “suitable and sufficient” assessment as to whether asbestos is likely to be present.
- The requirement to then make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment before carrying out work with asbestos. The assessment must include plans as to how the work will be carried out safely.
- Ensuring compliance with licensing and notification requirements. All asbestos work requiring a licence must be notified in advance to HSE.
- Compliance with the requirements for regular training both for those doing the work and those supervising them.
However, following their introduction, the Asbestos Regulations 2012 now require that:
- Some previously non-licensed asbestos work has now become notifiable to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE);
- Those carrying out notifiable non-licensed asbestos work will be subject to medical screening (this provision comes into force in 2015); and
- Records must be kept of notifiable non-licensable asbestos work.
These relatively minor changes to asbestos legislation prompted revision of several pieces of HSE guidance – all of which can be found online on the comprehensive, user-friendly, HSE asbestos webpages.
Overall, current asbestos legislation and guidance aims to help occupiers and companies manage risks as cost-effectively and pragmatically as possible. They require a proportionate approach, aiming to match control to risk, and an approach that recognises that businesses are faced potentially with a wide range of asbestos containing materials on their premises, and an equally wide range of associated risks.
Because of the amount of asbestos still in buildings and existing installations the group of workers at highest risk are tradesmen working on buildings. Most occupational exposures to asbestos now occur through lack of awareness, which is where Asbestos training comes in. And of course this lack of awareness puts others at risk e.g. other workers or the general public.
This post is an excerpt from a recent article in The RoSPA Occupational Safety and Health Journal, which is available free to RoSPA Members. You can read the full ‘Asbestos advice’ article here.