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Asbestos - the Hidden Killer.
 
If you don't know if there is asbestos in your premises, you may have a problem. Contact us now for help with any asbestos issues - advice; training; removal; inspection etc.
 




If you are not sure whether asbestos is present within your business premises, you should authorise a suitable survey.
 
All businesses have a 'duty of care' under the “Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations" to ensure that you protect employees and the public from any Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) on your premises. Asbestos is a Carcinogen - a cancer causing substance and around 4000 people die every year in the UK because of past exposure.
 
You will deal with an expert in the asbestos regulations. Whether you need advice on asbestos safety; an asbestos survey; asbestos removal or training, we aim to be the most cost-effective health and safety solution for your business.
 
Remember - employers with premises have a legal duty to have in place an asbestos management plan and we can arrange a specialist survey anywhere in the UK.
 
Workers that may be exposed to asbestos during the course of their work such as maintenance staff, electricians, plumbers, construction workers et. MUST have asbestos awareness training.

In May 2015 the HSE prosecuted a company after it failed to identify asbestos materials in advance of construction work in a college. What type of survey ought to have been commissioned and why?
 
In July 2012 Labform Ltd (L), a laboratory design and installation specialist, undertook work at Newmarket College School to refurbish the science block. Unfortunately, the job became more complex and expensive than anticipated when L’s subcontractor disturbed asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
 
The incident occurred when the workers removed a wall and cut channels in the floor: tasks which were in line with the plans but had not been properly prepared for. The incident led to major clean-up costs and exposed workers, pupils and teachers to the carcinogenic substance.
 
What went wrong?
L had not surveyed in detail before the work so when the subcontractors cut into the surface, the presence of asbestos was a surprise. By then it was too late to take precautions to prevent exposure. In court L pleaded guilty to four breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 . It was fined £22,400 and ordered to pay £11,741 in costs.
 
Common mistake
Many employers make a similar error when undertaking construction, demolition or installation work. They look at the surfaces, see no evidence of ACMs and rely on the training or experience of workers to spot the substance during the work. However, this approach to asbestos management doesn’t fit with the law: you are expected to do more.
 
How should it have been managed?
The school should have had a “refurbishment and demolition asbestos survey” (R&D survey) completed. This type of survey is destructive, i.e. it involves knocking holes in walls, pulling up flooring, etc. This locates all the ACMs in parts of the building being worked on so that they can be removed. L should not have started work on the premises until they had seen and acted on the findings of this survey.
 
Note. If there is an existing survey report for a building and it is dated before February 2010 it will be titled as a “type one”, “two” or “three” survey. The type three survey is the equivalent of the current R&D survey.
 
Using the information
Whenever work will disturb materials in a building constructed before 2000 you must check that the area is free of ACMs.
 
Tip 1. Surveys have their limitations and are often filled with disclaimers about the parts which could not be reached. Check the report carefully to see if it covers all the parts which you are working on, especially if you will be removing top layers of materials or working in voids.
Tip 2. If the survey has excluded important areas, a qualified surveyor will usually need to be called back in. The only exception would be where the materials are visible and it is obvious that they are non-asbestos, e.g. brick, glass, wood, metal.
 
Further advice: Asbestos: The Survey Guide (HSG264)

 

Court result: Builder jailed for asbestos breaches safety breaches
June 2015
 
A builder has been jailed for exposing workers to asbestos while working at a commercial unit on a Colwyn Bay industrial estate.
 
Mr BR of Llandudno and three men working with him, were exposed to potentially deadly asbestos fibres while working in the unit at Eagle Farm Road, Mochdre Business Park around 11 September 2012.
 
Llandudno Magistrates’ Court heard how BR, who had been employed by the owner of the premises to remove asbestos from the building prior to sale. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was alerted to the unlicensed work by a contractor who was licensed to remove asbestos.
 
HSE’s investigation found that BR removed a significant quantity of asbestos insulating board (AIB) from the premises despite not holding a licence to work with such material. BR pleaded guilty to breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, and was given a jail sentence of 6 months.
 
Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Chris Wilcox said: “The safe removal of asbestos requires a high level of skill and technical knowledge and must be done by a contractor licenced by HSE. Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. There are specific rules in place to make sure it is dealt with safely and contractors have a duty to ensure they protect their workers from risk of exposure. By undertaking the uncontrolled removal of asbestos, work for which he was not licensed, BR exposed himself and his co-workers to the risk of inhaling asbestos fibres. The outcome of this exposure cannot easily be assessed but there remains the possibility of ill health in the future. The workers could also have posed a health risk to others, including, for example, their families and loved ones, by taking home contaminated clothing. Those involved now have to live with the fear of becoming ill with this life-threatening lung disease.”
 
For information and advice on asbestos, search: www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos 



1.3 million tradespeople at risk from dangers of asbestos
9 October 2014
Health and Safety Executive launches new safety campaign as an average of 20 tradespeople die every week from asbestos related diseases - and over 4,500 in the UK every year.
 
Tradespeople, including construction workers, carpenters and painters and decorators, could come into contact with deadly asbestos on average more than 100 times a year according to a new survey commissioned by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
 
The survey revealed some common myths believed by those at risk, with 1 in seven (14 per cent) believing that drinking a glass of water will help protect them from the deadly dust and one in four (27 per cent) thinking that opening a window will help to keep them safe.
Only a third (30 per cent) of those asked, were able to identify all the correct measures for safe asbestos working, whilst more than half (57 per cent) made at least one potentially lethal mistake in trying to identify how to stay safe. 
 
Asbestos can be found in walls and ceilings, or the structure of a building, as well as a host of other places like floor tiles, boilers, toilet cisterns, guttering and soffits. It can be disturbed by basic maintenance work like drilling holes and sanding and once disturbed, the microscopic fibres can prove lethal if breathed in, causing lung disease and cancer.
 
And although many of those surveyed could pinpoint some asbestos-containing materials, others were clueless, with only 19 per cent recognising it could also be hidden in common fixtures such as toilet seats and cisterns.
 
Despite being banned in the construction industry, asbestos exposure remains a very serious risk to tradespeople.
 
Former electrical consultant Simon Clark, who in 2012 was diagnosed with mesothelioma – the life-threatening and aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos – when he was just 52, said:

“When I was younger I didn’t think of the dangers of asbestos and I must have been exposed to it frequently. Since being diagnosed, I’ve had to give up my work and let some of my employees go – which is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is vitally important that everybody knows when they might be exposed and takes the correct steps to protect themselves.”