Chartered Building Surveyor 

Press Release for Growing Business

Asbestos - New Regulations for Old

Asbestos is still a killer - one fibre is enough to kill you or your staff or anyone coming to your premises. Asbestos has been used as an insulation material, and as a binder or composite in almost every building material at some time. Amphibole type asbestos was banned from importation and use in 1984. However, Chrysotile wasn't banned from importation or use until 1997 although a voluntary ban was effective from 1989! Old stocks of material and contaminated production machinery have been found to be used much later than that.

The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 are expected to come in to force towards the end of this year to replace the old and much amended Asbestos at Work Regulations 1989. It reinforces the duties that all Employers already have under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and the "Management Regulations 1992" to manage asbestos wherever it occurs in the workplace, whether it be in the Employer's own premises or elsewhere where work is being carried out by their staff. In line with the latest generation of the Health and Safety Regulations, the duty is placed upon the Employer to identify and then to manage asbestos containing material (ACM's), but the Regulations do not proscribe how this is to be done.

The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations state that the existence of ACM's should be properly recorded and records updated accordingly and the best way to achieve this is to set up a Register for their premises and other workplaces, following an inspection of them by a competent person.

Naturally, Employers are going to be bombarded by many Company's offering to set up a Register for them ready for the new Regulations to come into force. However, before you accept one of the many tempting offers to 'get some red tape off your desk', you need to ensure that the person carrying out the work is competent under the new regulations and I recommend that you also ensure that in addition to preparing the Register, they make plans to manage ALL ACM's working towards their eventual removal.

Three levels of inspection are recommended:
Type 1: Register will list materials presumed or strongly presumed likely to contain asbestos based upon a visual inspection.
Type 2: Register will list ALL materials tested following sample testing of all materials which are suspected to contain asbestos.
Type 3: As Type 2 but Samples of every material found in the building, with all parts of the building opened up.

Types One and Two rely upon a full inspection including inspections into as many accessible voids and spaces built into the building as possible. They also rely upon the inspector being competent as described in MDHS 100 and having the expertise and experience to know which materials may contain asbestos. A properly experienced and qualified person will also be able to provide advice in the context of the maintenance and repair requirements of the building, so as well as getting a Register, you will also get advice upon managing the material in conjunction with other work to the building. Type Three inspections have been commonly known as destructive surveys and are more appropriate prior to demolition or major refurbishment of a building.

Before appointing a Consultant to help you meet the Regulations ask:

  • Is the person doing the work competent - have they got the proper experience and qualifications?
  • Are they Regulated?
  • What guidelines do they follow for this work?
  • What level of survey will they recommend?

Philip Newman MRICS is a building surveying consultancy operating from the heart of East Hampshire and covering the whole of Southern England, dealing mainly with commercial and industrial buildings. From August they will provide a Chartered Building Surveyor who is also one of the most competent and qualified Asbestos Inspectors who will be able to advise upon the appropriate type of inspection, inspect and set up the Register, and to advise upon the management of asbestos in the context of the overall management of the building structures and fabric.

Philip Newman 2001

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