What are my responsibilities for managing asbestos in my building or on my land?

In 1999, asbestos was banned in the UK; however, it is still possible that it is present, especially in commercial buildings built before 2000. Although asbestos is extremely dangerous, it does not become a major health risk unless it is moved or damaged. This is because fibres are then released into the air, putting people’s health at risk. It’s important to be clear who is responsible for managing asbestos, especially if you are planning to undertake any work that may disturb Asbestos Containing Materials.

Do you own or manage a commercial building?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that under regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, the responsibility for the asbestos management of non-domestic premises lies with the owner, person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of a non-domestic building. The person stated in the contract then becomes the Dutyholder and has the duty to manage asbestos in all non-domestic premises. This includes all industrial, commercial or public buildings such as factories, warehouses, offices, shops, hospitals and schools.

If the agreement made on the lease states that the tenant is responsible for dealing with any upkeep or maintenance work of the building, appropriate surveys and checks must be done by the owner before the issue of the initial lease of the property. If this is not the case, the owner of the property is then liable for any injury caused by the substance.

What are the Dutyholder’s responsibilities?

As the Dutyholder, you have a responsibility for the safety of your tenants, leaseholders, employees and contractors and must find out whether the premises contains asbestos, where it is and what condition it is in. To do this, building plans or other relevant information, alongside the age of the building, must be assessed to determine if there is any asbestos-containing material (ACM) on site.

If the Dutyholder’s assessment indicates that asbestos is present or there could be a possibility of ACM, it is then their responsibility to prepare a detailed written plan of action outlining the risks and how it will be managed. If in doubt, any questionable materials must be presumed to contain asbestos and employees then made aware of the findings to ensure they avoid possible disturbance.

When necessary, ACMs may need to be sealed, encapsulated or removed. If this is the case, it is always recommended that a licensed asbestos removal contractor should be hired, especially when the materials are considered high risk. Following this, the Dutyholder must then record their findings in order to show their proof of compliance. This should then be periodically reviewed to ensure it is kept up-to-date and relevant.

Commercial properties pre-2000

When considering the purchase or rental of a commercial property that has been built pre-2000, always ensure an Asbestos Management Report is available and up-to-date before completion. If you’re the owner of this property, your duties under the law are laid out in Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and it is your responsibility to protect anyone from possible exposure to asbestos at the property.

Are you looking for more information on asbestos removal or how Weaver Demolition can help? Please contact us here.

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