Asbestos management

17 February 2021

Managing the asbestos risk to protect those around us

Why is asbestos management important?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous material which if inhaled can cause serious diseases.  
 
These include cancers of the lungs and chest linings. Despite its use being banned in 2000, asbestos was used widely in the construction and refurbishment of industrial, commercial, public and residential buildings for many years. This was usually because of its high tensile strength, and non-flammable characteristics.  
 
Those responsible for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises have a legal duty to manage the risk from any asbestos that might be present. This is set out in the Safety, Health & Welfare At Work (Exposure to Asbestos) Regulations 2006-2010. The Construction Regulations 2013 are also relevant in the renovation, repair and demolition of buildings where asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACM's) may have been used.
 
How do you know if asbestos is present?

Asbestos can  be found in any building built before the year 2000. However, caution may still be necessary if new premises have been built on existing basements or linked to adjoining structures 
 
It can be difficult to spot as its use had such diverse application. Therefore, you should do all that you can to find it by:
 
  • using information you may already have about asbestos in your premises
  • checking building plans or other relevant information
  • consulting others such as, architects or surveyors 
  • carrying out a thorough inspection of your premises (you may need specialist help to do this).  Only an asbestos surveyor may carry out asbestos surveys.

What to do if there is asbestos in your premises

If there is asbestos in your premises, you should:
 
  • assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres, making and keeping suitable records
  • prepare a plan, setting out how the risks will be managed
  • implement the precautions set out in your plan, reviewing this periodically
  • provide relevant information to others who may work on or disturb it.

Carrying out work where asbestos is present

If you intend to carry out work on asbestos containing materials or have this done on your behalf, you will need to meet more detailed requirements. This will need careful consideration.
 
For example, you can only use a competent person to carry out any activity that involves the disturbance or removal  of asbestos or ACM's.  You will also need to implement suitable precautions to make sure people are safe ,
 
You may also have responsibilities as a ‘client’ under the 2013  Construction Regulations.
 
Further information on what is required is available on the Health And Safety Authority (HSA) website  www.hsa.ie