Asbestos is one of the greatest causes of work-related deaths in the UK.
Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring fibrous material that was regularly used in all sorts of construction from the 1950s until it was banned in the UK in 1999. Due to its average tensile strength, resistance to heat, fire, electricity and chemicals, it was used for insulating piping and heating systems, as well as being mixed into cement and even woven into fabrics and mats.
As a result of asbestos’ widespread use until the ban in 1999, it can still be found in many buildings including homes, hospitals, schools and work offices. If it is disturbed it can be fatal, as it has now been proven that inhaling asbestos fibres can cause serious and life threatening illnesses including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
Asbestos related illnesses kill more people in the UK every year than road traffic accidents, often as a result of prolonged exposure. It can be a hidden danger as it is often mixed with other materials, making it hard to identify without professional help.
Where can it be found?
Asbestos can be present in many different areas of your premises, below is a list of common places it can be found:
- Textured coatings
- Floor tiles, textiles and composites
- Ceiling or floor cavity
- Insulating boards
- Sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls and beams/columns
- Roofing shingles
For complete assurance that your workplace is kept safe from asbestos, call today and our experts will remove any and all traces of it that may be hiding in your premises.
We understand the seriousness of asbestos and the danger it can impose on your business and any visitors to your premises, which is why our experts act immediately and work with you to cover all aspects of containment and removal. The service that we provide includes two main aspects, asbestos removal and surveys.
We can offer a safe and efficient asbestos removal for all types of buildings. Our specialists are equipped with advanced equipment to tackle any kind of asbestos problem. Some of the areas that our experts typically remove asbestos from include:
- Fascias & Soffits
- Pipe Insulation & Thermal Insulation
- Gaskets & Rope products
- Roofs & Cladding
- Artex & Decorative Textured Coatings
- Flew Pipes & Guttering
- And many more
As well as removing asbests from your workplace, our specialists can also assist with asbestos waste disposal and providing general advice concerning asbestos in the workplace.
The licensed HSE approved contractors that we work with will always make sure that your business is legally compliant and safe after removing your asbestos.
The purpose of a survey for asbestos is to make a ‘materials assessment’, which will find and record how much asbestos is found in a building. The law requires that if you own, occupy, manage or have responsibilities for any non domestic premises, then you must have had a survey to prevent exposure to asbestos. In principle you must:
- Identify and document any asbestos in their premises
- Produce an asbestos management plan
- Inform and train their employees with regard to asbestos
- Inform anyone who may come into contact with asbestos
Our fully licensed specialists will perform a thorough survey on your building and formulate an up to date materials assessment to ensure that you meet all four of the critieria listed above.
Because of the seriousness of asbestos and asbestos-related illnesses, the government has set in place strict laws and legislation to ensure that the harmful fibre is dealt with appropriately in any premises where it may be found. The primary legislation regarding asbestos is the The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 which applies to:
- All non-domestic buildings
- Common areas of domestic buildings
- All other domestic properties that are not affected by the duty to manage
The guidelines cover the control of asbestos at work, licensing and the prohibition of asbestos. The most important points are summarised below:
- Training is mandatory for anyone who is exposed to asbestos
- It is prohibited to import, supply and use all types of asbestos and also continue to ban the second hand use of asbestos products such as asbestos boards and tiles
- Should work need to be carried out that may result in the disturbing of asbestos then all measures should be taken to limit the exposure to asbestos fibres
- Any exposure to those fibres should be below the 'airborne exposure limit' of 0.1 fibres per cm³
- Anyone working on asbestos under the regulations must have a license issued by the Health and Safety Executive
- Punishment for unsafe exposure to asbestos varies on the scale of this but is often costly. For example, a company were fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £2,757 in costs, by West Bromwich Magistrates under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
Contrevening the legislation and regulations relating to asbestos in the workplace can have serious consequences for your business and the health of your staff. Keep your business protected, call today and our experts will keep you legally compliant with UK legislation.
A recent study carried out by the Health and Safety Executive revealed that as many as 57% of 500 tradespeople who were questioned in an official survey failed to identify potentially lethal asbestos risks or identify correct safety procedures. Given that an average of 20 workers die every week due to asbestos related diseases, these figures show that there are still many dangerous misconceptions about asbestos and the correct procedures for working around it.
Some of the common myths that were highlighted by the Government survey include:
Myth: 14% believed drinking a glass of water will help to protect from deadly asbestos dust.
Fact: Whilst it’s important to stay hydrated at work, simply drinking a glass of water offers no protection whatsoever against the dangers of asbestos.
Myth: 27% said opening a window is sufficient to stay safe from asbestos.
Fact: Working in areas with good ventilation is always recommended in the construction industry, however this does not guarantee any protection from asbestos.
Myth: 85% thought asbestos is only found in buildings built before the year 2000.
Fact: Asbestos was most prolifically used between 1970 and 2000, however it can still be found in buildings built before 1970 and after 2000.
Myth: 81% believed asbestos is only found in walls and construction materials.
Fact: Asbestos can and has been found in more than just structural points and materials, including toilet seats, fixtures, cisterns and piping.
More information about the Health and Safety Executive’s survey carried out in September 2014 is available here.
Q. Where is asbestos found?
A. Asbestos was widely used in construction for a variety of purposes from the 1950’s until it was banned in 1999. As a result, it can be found in any and all of the following places: cement, textured coatings, floor tiles, insulating boards, pipe and boiler insulation, and ceiling or floor cavities.
Q. Am I safe if my building was constructed after 1999?
A. Even buildings completed after the ban of asbestos could contain some traces of asbestos fibres, particularly if the construction began prior to 1999. For any buildings completed around the year 2000, it’s always best to be safe, rather than taking the risk.
Q. How do I know if there is asbestos in my building?
A. The government has published an identification guide to help you recognise asbestos in typical areas that it may be found in. However, it can be very hard to identify asbestos without professional help; so if in doubt, call our experts straight away.
Q. What are the dangers of asbestos?
A. Asbestos fibres are highly carcinogenic and can cause a number of serious, even fatal diseases including lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. Often these problems manifest several years after exposure, but disturbing asbestos and inhaling the fibres is always a serious health risk.
Q. I think I have asbestos in my building, what should I do?
A. If you believe there is asbestos in your building it is very important to ensure that it is not disturbed by your staff or customers. The next step should be to immediately seek professional help to remove the asbestos safely and properly.