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Are you doing enough to protect your employees from asbestos?

It’s 23 years since the importation, supply and use of all forms of asbestos was banned, but we still see large numbers of prosecutions against companies who have failed to protect their employees from it.

From the 1950s up to 1999, Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) were used extensively throughout the UK and can still be found now in both industrial and residential properties built or refurbished before the year 2000. ACMs were used widely as insulation and fire proofing material and are often found in sprayed coatings, water tanks, ceiling and floor tiles, toilet seats and cisterns, cement roofs, cement panels and asbestos insulating board in walls or around boilers.

When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air. If these fibres are inhaled, they can cause serious diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestos related lung cancer, asbestosis, and pleural thickening. It can take 20 to 30 years before symptoms appear and around five thousand people a year die from asbestos related illnesses.

What do I need to do?

If you are responsible for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises, you have a duty to manage any asbestos in that building.

Dutyholder responsibilities:

  • Find out if asbestos is present in your building with an asbestos survey, which should be carried out by a competent person.
  • Keep a record of the location, type and condition of the asbestos.
  • Assess the risk of anyone being exposed to the asbestos.
  • Prepare a plan on how to manage these risks.
  • Put the plan into action, monitor it and keep it up to date – regular checks should be carried out to ensure any remaining asbestos remains undamaged.


Before starting any work in a building that might contain asbestos a company must:

  • Provide a copy of the asbestos survey to the contractors.
  • Carry out a risk assessment and decide if it’s possible to carry out the work avoiding the risk of asbestos exposure all together.
  • Decide if the work needs to be carried out by a licensed contractor. Most asbestos removal work will require a contractor holding a licence from HSE.
  • If the work is not licensable, decide if the work needs to be notified.
  • Ensure those carrying out the work are suitably trained.


You may find our next ProAktive Health and Safety seminar of interest coming up on 4th May 2023. Ken Stevens CMIOSH will cover asbestos at this seminar and you can find full details and RSVP here. 

By Rachel Cuff CMIOSHRisk Consultant

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