Asbestos on commercial property

Health implications make it vital to manage and control asbestos in a suitable way. In addition to this, landlords and business owners need to be aware of the specific requirements they need to meet under legislation: The control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and the Duty to Manage May 2004.

Many people do not realise that there are different types of asbestos which are not equally as dangerous. All are unsafe. However, Crocidolite (blue) and Amosite (brown) are more hazardous than Chrysotile (white). Regardless of the type of asbestos, if you own or manage commercial premises you have a duty to consider the risk to staff, suppliers and any visitors to the building. Below we seek to answer some frequently asked questions on the topic.

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Is the year a building was constructed indicative of whether asbestos will be present?

Asbestos is more likely to exist in a building if it was built or refurbished before 1985, buildings constructed after 1985 up until 1999 may also have asbestos present but the risk is likely to be lower due to the materials used.

Which material can contain asbestos?

The list below is not exhaustive, but the most common materials include:

  • Loose Insulation products, for example quilt and blanket products (very high risk due to exposure to fibres).
  • Sprayed coatings, for example under roofs or columns (very high risk)
  • Thermal Insulation, for example lagging on pipes, tape, blankets  (high risk)
  • Millboard for heat protection, for example ceiling tiles (high risk)
  • Paper, felt and cardboard (medium to high risk)
  • Textile products (medium risk)
  • Friction Products, for example brakes, conveyor belts (lower risk)
  • Cement products (medium risk)
  • Products for strengthening and fire proofing (lower risk)

Does the condition of the asbestos affect what management and control should be taken?

Yes, if asbestos is in a good condition it is recommended that it is left and a management process put in place. If the asbestos is in a bad condition, likely to be damaged or disturbed the required action is likely to vary but will normally involve, repair, sealing, enclosure or removal by a specialist.

Are there any other factors which are taken into consideration when deciding on how to deal with asbestos?

Yes, other influencing factors include: The location, type (blue, white, brown), material where it is considered present.

What should be done if it is decided that asbestos is best left in a building?

It needs to be listed along with location plans in the Asbestos Register. It should also be labelled; if it is not labelled any people working on the material must be told it contains asbestos.

Is any further action needed if the asbestos is removed or repaired?

Yes it must still be listed and marked in the asbestos register.

How should asbestos be disposed of?

You should contact an environmental waste specialist, there are strict guidelines defined by the Hazardous Waste Regulation 2005 and you should seek specialist advice.

What does the Duty to Manage legislation require me to do?

  1. Take steps to determine the location and condition
  2. Presume materials contain asbestos unless it can be shown otherwise
  3. Take a written record of the location and condition of the asbestos
  4. A risk assessment
  5. Draft a plan to manage risks
  6. Implement the plan

What does the Control of Regulation 2006 require?

  1. In some instances contractors working in the building will need to hold an asbestos licence, if the risk is higher than ‘sporadic and low intensity’
  2. Ban importation into the UK and the handling of second hand asbestos.

Our commercial property and environmental teams can assist you with the above points in conjunction with our specialist network of experts in this area. Please call us today on 0203 816 9303 for a free, no obligation initial chat with one of our legal advisors.

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