Controlling asbestos in blocks

The regulations setting out requirements to manage asbestos in buildings have been out for some time now. The major change came with the introduction of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002. The duty to manage (regulation 4) came into force in May 2004 after an 18-month lead in period to allow sufficient time for organisations to comply, writes Peter Moore of Tetra Consulting.

The 2002 regulations set out explicit requirements to manage asbestos in all properties except private residential dwellings (there are no other exceptions). All common areas of managed blocks of flats are included. The regulations stipulate that a suitable and sufficient assessment is carried out to identify if asbestos is or is liable to be present in the premises and the most practical way of determining this is by undertaking a survey.

The 2006 changes have brought three previous pieces of legislation under one roof. The most recent changes included a relaxation of the requirement for work with textured coatings that for most cases will now be non licensed work, technical changes to analysis and exposure levels and introduced a statutory duty to provide asbestos awareness training for workers who might come into contact with asbestos as part of their work.


A stampede

So how is the legislation working in practice? The 2002 regulations led to a stampede of type 2 surveys being carried out, this has reduced but there is still strong demand. However, type 3 surveying, project management and training are increasing.

Many companies assumed that having the survey completed would ensure compliance but this is not the case! Creating a management plan, and on going management of asbestos must be put in place. Improvement notices have been issued by the HSE for companies not having asbestos management plans and/ or surveys of their properties.

Asbestos Management Plan

There are steps you need to have taken to ensure compliance: * Put in place an asbestos management plan; * Have surveys (recommend type 2s) undertaken of your properties; * Ensure the Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) are being managed. This does not necessarily mean removing it. ACMs should be maintained in good condition; * Where the asbestos is retained and managed then ensure that re-inspections are taking place at least annually; * Ensure your asbestos information is made available to staff, contractors and others who might disturb or come into contact with ACM’s in your properties; * Ensure asbestos awareness training is carried out for all your staff (including caretakers, porters and management surveyors) involved in the management of your properties.

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