Asbestos management

15 November 2018

Risk management and asbestos, how to protect yourself and those around you.

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 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 statutory duty to manage the risk from any asbestos that might be present. This duty is set out in the Control of Asbestos Regulations.

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
  • Employ a consultant such as, an architect or a surveyor to carry out an asbestos survey
  • carrying out a thorough inspection of your premises (you may need specialist help to do this).

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, depending upon the type of work and the type of  asbestos present you may need to use a specialist asbestos contractor. 
 
You may also have responsibilities as a ‘client’ under the Construction Regulations.
 
Further information on what is required is available on the Health And Safety Authority (HSA)  www.hsa.ie