Asbestos testing: Your legal responsibilities

11th October 2016

Worker with schematic drawing

Although its use as a construction material was banned in 1999, asbestos is still present in millions of homes and business premises across the UK.

With the hazardous material posing a direct threat to human health, there are laws in place to help minimise the risk of injury and illness – these are governed and enforced by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive). Legislation includes the mandatory testing of buildings that fit certain criteria.

Who is responsible?

According to the HSE, it’s the responsibility of the “duty holder” to ensure its regulations are adhered to. The duty holder will be the building’s owner, although it can also be a third party if that person or company has “clear responsibility for maintenance or repair.” This is more likely if the building in question is public, like a hospital or school. In this case, the extent of the duty will depend on the nature of the agreement, the HSE notes.

Age matters

Given that asbestos has been banned for almost 20 years, the number of buildings containing it is thankfully not growing anymore. It also means that not all premises need to tested for the substance’s presence. If your building was constructed in 2000 or later, it would be highly unlikely that asbestos was used as a building material given discontinuation in 1999, if the building is pre 2000, the HSE states that you must have an Asbestos Register in place.

An Asbestos Register helps you manage the risk of asbestos contamination in your building. As you’ll see from this example offered by the HSE, it lists all potential and confirmed asbestos locations, along with useful information such as condition, type and level of accessibility.

How do I get an Asbestos Register?

This document is produced as the result of an asbestos survey. ASI Environmental will produce building plans to indicate, if present, the location of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). The report can then be updated and referred to when refurbishment or demolition work takes place.

Once a survey has been carried out, and a register put together, it’s the duty holder’s responsibility to make an asbestos management plan (with help from ASI if required). This details the measures that should be taken to ensure nobody is put at risk by ACMs within the building. It might be that they are removed, or encapsulated with a sealant for protection.

If asbestos is present and in good condition it must be monitored closely to ensure it doesn’t deteriorate over time. If it becomes more of a risk later on, it can then be removed.

ASI: Here to help

ASI is a nationwide Asbestos surveying company with our own in-house laboratory based in Southampton. We have many accreditations including the UKAS accreditation, and that is your guarantee that we work to very strict guidelines and the highest professional standards.

All of our surveyors are strategically placed around the country and can react very quickly to any emergency situation. We pride ourselves in listening very closely to our clients and provide them with a competitive service that is tailored precisely to their needs.

We also provide clients access to a password protected online database which captures their survey results. Contact us now to find out how closely we work with our clients, and allow us to demonstrate how we could become an integral part of your Asbestos management team.

For more information, get in touch today.