About Asbestos

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material which was regularly used in buildings until the late 1990s.

It is still found today in many buildings, including homes, schools, offices and hospitals. If disturbed, it can be a killer.

Asbestos was widely used as an insulation and fire proofing solution. In particular, it found its way into many products including ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, boilers, sprayed coatings and garage roof tiles.

Inhaling loose asbestos fibres is known to cause several serious and even fatal lung diseases and it was finally banned in 1999.

Types of Asbestos

“What is asbestos?” is not a straightforward question as there are several types.

Chrysotile – Known as white asbestos. The fibres are soft and fine which can resist high temperatures. Chrysotile was banned in the UK in 1999.
Amosite – Known as brown asbestos. The fibres are spikey and have good tensile strength. Used mainly between the 1920s and the late 60s. Amosite was banned in the UK in 1986.
Crocidolite – Known as blue asbestos. The fibres are like needles and are the strongest. Crocidolite has been used since the 1880s and was finally banned by the Asbestos (Prohibitions) Regulations in 1985.

Regulations, asbestos and the law

Current Legislation – Overview

Asbestos (Prohibitions) (Amendment) Regulations 2003

These Regulations prohibit the importation of all types of asbestos and products to which they have intentionally been added.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

came into force on 6th April 2012
(Asbestos Regulations – SI 2012/632)

These Regulations bring together the three previous sets of Regulations covering the prohibition of asbestos, the control of asbestos at work and asbestos licensing.

The Regulations prohibit the importation, supply and use of all forms of asbestos. They continue the ban introduced for blue and brown asbestos in 1985 and for white asbestos in 1999. They also continue to ban the second-hand use of asbestos products such as asbestos cement sheets and asbestos boards and tiles; including panels which have been covered with paint or textured plaster containing asbestos.

Non-compliance with the regulations above will lead to penalties including the closure of works by HSE inspectors, unlimited fines for companies responsible, and fines of up to £20,000 or even imprisonment for individuals responsible.

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Asbestos: Legal Advice to Landlords

Landlords, as Dutyholders, have responsibilities for asbestos under two sources of legislation. The Defective Premises Act 1972 addresses responsibilities within a domestic property. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 imposes responsibilities on the landlord, as Dutyholder, with respect to the external and communal areas of multiple-occupation dwellings

This summary is necessarily brief and is not intended to replace the full explanation of the responsibilities as set out by the full wording of the legislation, the appropriate Approved Codes of Practice and the summation of legal interpretations.

Under the Control of Asbestos Regulation 2012, the law does place specific duties on a landlord in respect of asbestos in their property,

The Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990 defines statutory nuisance as “any dust…likely to cause injury…to the public”. The Act gives local authorities, through Environmental Health Officers (EHOs), the power to serve abatement notices where premises are in such a state as to be prejudicial to health, or a nuisance.

Duty of Care

The duty to manage asbestos is contained in regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It requires the person who has the duty (ie the “dutyholder”) to

Take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, its amount, where it is and what condition it is in;

To presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not;

To make, and keep up-to-date, a record of the location and condition of the asbestos containing materials – or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos;

To assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the materials identified;

To prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed;

To take the necessary steps to put the plan into action;

To periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements to act on it so that the plan remains relevant and up-to-date; and

to provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.

There is also a requirement on anyone to co-operate as far as is necessary to allow the dutyholder to comply with the above requirements

Useful links

The HSE (The Heath & Safety Executive) – Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. The HSE provides Health and safety information on the dangers and management of asbestos in the workplace.

The Pleural Mesothelioma Center – Part of our mission at PleuralMesothelioma.com is to provide current, reliable data on all topics relating to pleural mesothelioma cancer.

Mesotheliomasymptoms.com – Our goal is to provide accurate, relevant information that can be used for general informational purposes and to advocate for greater awareness of the dangers of asbestos and the realities of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Fund – Mesothelioma develops when breathing in asbestos fibers which then get lodged in the lungs and goes undetected for decades. Many hazardous occupational workers are exposed to these fibers without knowledge. Mesothelioma Fund provides help for victims and their families battling mesothelioma cancer.