Farmers Weekly Q & A Asbestos Management

Farmers Weekly spoke to EMS’s Managing Director Jamie Perkins-Best. Jamie has more than 20 years’ experience as an asbestos consultant and was pleased to advise Farmer’s Weekly for their Q & A on asbestos surveying, asbestos management and asbestos removal on farms and farm buildings.

Do I need an asbestos survey for my farm? Are they expensive?

There is a legal duty to manage asbestos in all ‘non-domestic’ properties. This includes all farm buildings, with the exception of the house which is not usually a requirement to be included. The first step of managing asbestos is to locate and assess the condition of all asbestos materials onsite by having a survey, the basic level survey is called a ‘management survey’.

You have to be a competent person to produce the survey and it is strongly recommended by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that you use a surveying company that is UKAS (UK accreditation service) accredited.

The survey cost will vary depending on the number, size and age of buildings on your farm. Typical costs range from about £300-£750.

A management plan is also required. It can be a simple document detailing where asbestos is, how you will make sure all relevant people (staff & maintenance contractors) are aware and do not disturb the asbestos. It should also state how often you check the condition of the asbestos.

I need to demolish an old asbestos building on my farm. What must I do?

A demolition asbestos survey is a legal requirement prior to any demolition and this must be carried out by a competent person.

A demolition survey is more intrusive than a management survey and may break into areas of the structure that are not easily accessed on everyday use of the property. Again, the HSE strongly recommends using a UKAS accredited company.

Do I need a license or specialist training to work with asbestos?

Work with asbestos is classified into two categories; licensed and non-licensed. The way ACM’s are categorised is by the ease of which they can release asbestos fibres when disturbed.

For example, work which normally requires a licensed asbestos contractor includes work with asbestos insulation board (AIB), asbestos lagging (usually found on pipes and in boiler rooms) and loose asbestos insulation (found in voids and loft spaces).

Examples of non-licensed asbestos materials, which requires a competent person, include asbestos cement, asbestos roof tiles and asbestos textured coatings. This is due to the asbestos fibres being tightly bound in a matrix, and therefore the likelihood of their release is much less.

I’ve asked two employees to remove the structure. Could it be hazardous to their health and will I need to supply them with protective equipment? Do I need to make them aware of the risk?

Asbestos kills over 5,000 people in the UK each year, so yes, it can be very hazardous to their health. Asbestos is the UK’s largest occupational killer.

Depending on the type of material the employees may not be able to legally undertake the work, so it is important to ensure the material has been correctly classified and the survey will do this.

There are several legal Health and Safety requirements the employer must always comply with. This includes the provision of suitable training, instruction and equipment and the correct PPE.

It is a legal requirement that any person that may disturb asbestos during the course of their work attends asbestos awareness training. They must also be able to demonstrate competency and this may involve further training including the ‘work with non-licensed asbestos materials’ course. As an employer it is important that all risks are assessed, not just asbestos and that a written method statement and risk assessment is available onsite.

Consult HSE Asbestos Essentials for guidance on the correct steps.

The job is big. Should I employ a specialist contractor?

You have to be able to demonstrate competency, obviously removing a small section of roof or demolishing a small building is very different to tackling a large barn or shed area.

If the survey has shown the material can be removed as a ‘non-licensed’ task, there is no legal requirement to employ a specialist, however you need to have the necessary skills, equipment and experience to undertake the task safely.

I have a shed with asbestos clad roofing. I noticed it got damaged in a recent storm. I don’t intend to remove the shed, but should I remove the damaged material?

Asbestos is safe to remain in situ should it be in good condition and in an area that is not easily disturbed.

However, if the material has become damaged, this material is better off being repaired or removed.

If the repair is to standard asbestos cement sheets, follow the ‘Asbestos Essentials’ guidance on the HSE websiteIf you are unsure of the material it should be tested first.

How do you spot dangerous Asbestos Containing Material?

Advice given by the HSE states that all asbestos is dangerous, so all material needs to be maintained and monitored.

The survey should assess the condition of the material and its location should also be considered (how easily it may become damaged or be disturbed). Regular inspections (a minimum of every 12 months) should be undertaken to assess the condition of the material. If it has become damaged or deteriorated in condition, action may be required.

How should I dispose of the asbestos materials? Will I need to pay to remove it?

Asbestos materials must be disposed of in a suitably licensed waste disposal facility and to transport asbestos you need to have a ‘Hazardous Waste Transfer License’ which is issued from the Environment Agency.

It is important the correct paperwork is obtained or completed to show the correct transfer and disposal of the material. This is called a ‘Consignment Note’. It is recommended that a copy of this is filed with your management plan.

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For further information relating to asbestos management please see our article on Managing Your Asbestos

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