Basic Asbestos Principles
Asbestos was widely used in buildings between 1945 and 1985. That is why it
is so vital that the correct safety precautions are taken when working in areas
where asbestos containing materials (ACMs) may be encountered. It is estimated
that some half a million workplaces in the UK still have asbestos in them.
- Asbestos is only dangerous when it is disturbed. If it is safely managed and contained, it does not present a hazard to health.
- Do not remove asbestos unnecessarily, as removing it can be more dangerous than leaving it in situ and managing it.
- Not all asbestos materials pose the same risk. The measures that need to be taken for controlling the risks from materials such as pipe insulation are different from those needed in relation to asbestos cement and floor tiles.
- Remember, the duty to manage is all about putting into place the practical steps necessary to protect maintenance workers and others from the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres. It is not about removing all asbestos.
- If you are unsure whether certain materials contain asbestos, then assume that they do, and treat them as such.
- If Asbestos Containing Materials need to be sealed, encapsulated or removed, remember you will need to employ a licensed contractor if the materials are high risk (e.g. pipe insulation and insulating board). If the materials are lower risk (e.g. asbestos cement and thermoplastic floor tiles), then an unlicensed but competent contractor may carry out this work with the correct training and methods of work that follow the approved codes of practice.