What should you do if you discover asbestos in your building?
Although the use of asbestos as a building material was banned in 1999, its presence is still very widespread in the UK. In fact, if the building you own or are responsible for is more than 20 years old, there is a chance it may contain asbestos.
If left intact and undisturbed asbestos poses little to no threat however, if it is disturbed, asbestos particles released into the air can pose serious health risks, and can cause mesothelioma, the asbestos related cancer, as well as other debilitating illnesses.
While it is the legal duty of the building’s owner/controller to keep an asbestos risk register that lists the location of any asbestos containing materials and the associated risks, there is a possibility, especially in older buildings, that you may come across undocumented asbestos.
If you do come across material that you suspect to contain asbestos, there is a procedure that you must follow as laid out by in guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
If you discover materials that you suspect contain asbestos then this is the procedure you should follow:
- STOP work immediately
- Minimise the spread of contamination by instructing others to keep out of the area
- Report the presence of asbestos to the person in charge ASAP
- Put up a sign warning of “Possible asbestos contamination”
- Arrange a sample for analysis OR assume that it contains the worst type of asbestos
- Appropriate controls should be implemented, and should be carried out by a fully licenced contractor
- Update the asbestos management plan
Can I remove asbestos myself?
While you can remove asbestos yourself, it is strongly recommended that you do not and that the work is carried out by a fully trained and licenced professional. Asbestos is at its most dangerous when it is being moved or disturbed as this is when the material’s fibres can be released into the air where they can be absorbed into the lungs. As mentioned above, breathing in asbestos can have serious health implications.
If you think you have discovered asbestos in your building, please contact ASI. We have asbestos surveyors nationwide and our own in-house testing laboratory so that, wherever you are, we are always close by and ready to help.