EMS’s Guide to Managing Your Asbestos

If you have found yourself struggling to understand the implications of phrases such as ‘asbestos management plan’ and confused by the difference between an ‘asbestos register’ and an ‘asbestos survey’, you are not alone.

EMS have compiled a comprehensive introduction to everything you need to know if you are the duty holder of a public building, and therefore responsible for managing asbestos.

What is the duty to manage?

The duty to manage regulations set out in regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, require the duty holder of a property to:

• take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, including its amount and condition

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

• 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

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

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

• take the necessary steps to put the plan into action

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

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

How do I know if I am the duty holder?

Any duty holder of a non-domestic building is required by law to manage the asbestos. This is called ‘Duty to Manage’ and applies to individuals who own or are responsible for premises such as a shop or industrial unit, or any property area which is open to the public or workplace through an explicit agreement such as a tenancy agreement or contract.

The extent of the duty will depend on the nature of that agreement. In some cases, there may be no tenancy agreement or contract. Or, if there is, it may not specify who has responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises. In these cases, or where the premises are unoccupied, the duty is placed on whoever has control of the premises. Often this will be the owner.

In public buildings such as hospitals, schools and similar premises, the identity pf the dutyholder will depend on how the responsibility for maintenance of the premises is allocated.

How do I know if my building contains asbestos?

The first point of investigation to make relates to the age of the building. Asbestos was a commonly used building and insulating material until its eventual ban in 1999. Buildings constructed post 2000 are therefore highly unlikely to contain any asbestos.

If the premises was constructed prior to 2000, you must presume that it may contain asbestos unless you know for sure that it doesn’t, through previous asbestos surveying investigations.

It is important to consult any previous information you may have about the building and existing information about asbestos in the building. You should try and collect as much information as possible about the building. It is also useful to try and get copies of any plans or reports regarding the building. Even if these do not have any information regarding asbestos, they will be important for you to supply to your asbestos surveyor.

What is a management survey?

In order to undertake a management survey of your building it is important to source a competent and qualified asbestos surveying company. EMS are UKAS accredited and run our quality system to ISO9001 standard. Our surveyors are P402 and BOHS S301 qualified with a minimum of 2 years experience.

EMS will undertake a full management survey of the premises. Management surveys can involve a combination of sampling to confirm asbestos is present or presuming asbestos to be present.

A Management Survey is the standard survey. Its purpose is to locate, as far as reasonably practical, the presence and extent of any suspect asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in the building which could be damaged or disturbed during normal occupancy, including foreseeable maintenance and installation, and to assess their condition. A management survey will include an assessment of the condition of the various ACMs and their ability to release fibres into the air if they are disturbed in some way. This ‘material’ assessment will give a good initial guide to the priority for managing ACMs as it will identify the materials which will most readily release airborne fibres if they are disturbed.

Is a management survey intrusive?

Management Surveys will often involve minor intrusive work and some disturbance. The extent of intrusion will vary between premises and depend on what is reasonably practicable for individual buildings. All areas should be accessed and inspected as far as is possible. Areas should include underfloor coverings, above false ceilings and inside risers and lift shafts. Intrusive work may involve accessing behind fascia and panels and other surfaces. The extent of intrusion will depend on the degree of disturbance that is or will be necessary for foreseeable maintenance and related activities.

Management surveyors are only likely to involve the use of simple tools such as screwdrivers and chisels. Any areas not accessed will be presumed to contain asbestos. These areas will be clearly stated on the survey report and will have to be managed on this basis.

What is an asbestos register?

An asbestos register is produced following the completion of an asbestos management survey. The asbestos register details where asbestos is in a building, or where it may be located in order to manage risk.

The asbestos risk register is a key component of the required plan on how you will manage any asbestos found, or presumed to be, within a building. This management plan must contain current information about the presence and condition of any asbestos in the building. This management plan must contain current information about the presence and condition of asbestos in the building. The asbestos risk register will therefore need to be updated on a regular basis (at least once a year). To do this you should make:

• Regular inspections to check the current condition of asbestos materials

• Deletions to the register when any asbestos is removed

• Additions to the register when new areas are surveyed and asbestos is located

• Changes to the register (at any time asbestos-containing materials are found to deteriorated)

The risk register can be kept as a paper or electronic record and it is very important that this is kept up to date and easily accessible. Paper copies may be easier to pass on to visiting maintenance workers, who will need to know the location and condition of any asbestos before they start work. Electronic copies are easier to update are probably better suited for people responsible for larger numbers of properties or bigger premises.

What is an asbestos management plan?

The material assessment identifies the ‘high-hazard’ materials, ie. those materials which will most readily release airborne fibres if disturbed. It does not automatically follow that those materials assigned the highest score in the material assessment will be the priority for remedial action. Priority must be determined by carrying out a risk assessment (ie. A priority assessment which will take into account factors such as:

• The location of the material

• The extent of the material

• The use to which the location is put

• The occupancy of the area

• The activities carried on in the area

• The likelihood/frequency with which maintenance activities are likely to take place

The priority assessment can only be carried out with the detailed knowledge of all these factors. The surveyor will help with this process, by obtaining information will contribute to the priority assessment, particularly in a small or simple premises where information on occupancy and use is straightforward. The combined material and priority assessment results should be used to establish priority for those ACMs needing remedial options and the type of action that will be taken. There are various. This forms the basis of the asbestos management plan.

What is an asbestos re-inspection survey?

Once your initial management survey has been undertaken, asbestos register and management plan has been completed and put into place you will need a regular asbestos re-inspection survey.

This must take place at least every 12 months to ensure that the materials in place are in a good condition and no further action needs to be taken at this time. This is the recommendation made by the HSE.

This may need to be even more frequent depending on the type and location of the asbestos materials present. Your EMS surveyor will advise you of this and will make recommendations in your asbestos management plan accordingly.

What do I do next?

EMS are fully qualified, insured and able to advise you on the legislation as a duty holder. Please contact us to discuss your survey requirements for information and support to manage your asbestos. Contact us to discuss your requirements on 01432 263 333

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