Legislation, Law and Asbestos
The difference between asbestos waste and general waste disposal is the danger asbestos can cause whilst in place and when it is removed to be disposed of.
The number of people suffering from the effects of long term exposure to asbestos are staggering. Estimates suggest that up to 4,000 people each year die from mesothelioma or some other related disease and these numbers are set to rise in the future. The problem is that diseases such as this come from the cumulative exposure to asbestos dust and take many years to become apparent. Workers who were exposed decades ago and are just reaching their sixties and seventies are now most at risk.
In 2006, the UK government brought together three bits of existing legislation concerning asbestos prohibition, licensing and control at work, into one set of guidance and laws under the Control of Asbestos Regulations. This legislation means that the import of asbestos products is banned and that certain steps need to be taken to manage any asbestos that is currently in place.
First of all, those who have a duty for non-domestic premises need to identify any possible asbestos that is in-situ. They need to register this and have a management plan in place for dealing with it. For properties that were built after 1999, this is not generally an issue because by then materials without asbestos were being used.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations were updated in 2012 following an EU directive that required minor changes to the carrying out of non-licenced asbestos work.
The Duty of Care for Asbestos
For non-domestic properties, the person who has a duty of care for the building must take certain actions, including:
- Find out if there is asbestos or materials with asbestos in them on the premises and answer certain questions, namely: where it is, what amount there is and what condition it is in.
- Duty holders must assume that a material has asbestos in it if they are not sure if it does.
- They must keep up-to-date records of the condition of the asbestos and assess possible risks to those who may be exposed.
- They must put together a plan as to how these materials are going to be managed and take steps to put this into effect, including if the asbestos needs to be removed.
This duty of care can cover a wide range of properties including hospitals, schools, commercial properties, factories, shops and common areas for blocks of flats.
Licensed vs Unlicensed Asbestos Removal
First of all, undisturbed asbestos doesn’t normally present a problem. It is only when it has to be removed or is degraded that there can be a hazard.
A lot depends on what condition the asbestos is in. If the material is in a degraded state and potentially highly dangerous, then you need to employ an asbestos removal service that is fully licensed to carry out that work. If the material is not dangerous – for example it hasn’t degraded or isn’t part of the high risk list (eg pipe and wall insulation), then you can use a non-licensed contractor if that is appropriate.
If you are having asbestos material removed, you need to decide whether you require a licensed or unlicensed contractor. It is always best if you are not sure to use a licensed one.
Find out more about asbestos removal services in your area.