Asbestos is a hazardous material and it continues to be a problem in the UK. Due to its flexibility, durability and heat-resistant properties, asbestos was widely used in the construction of domestic, industrial and commercial structures and buildings. Even though the use of asbestos was completely banned in 1999, buildings and structures that were constructed before 2000 are at risk of having this hazardous material. This is by regulations were designed to make sure the safe and proper handling, collection and disposal of asbestos. It is these regulations that ensure the reduction of future cases of lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma caused due to asbestos exposure.
The asbestos regulations in the UK:
As mentioned, asbestos was used throughout the 20th-century in different construction materials including walls, ceilings, insulation, pipes, sheeting and much more. Whilst the use of this material has been banned, both commercial and residential buildings built before 2000 still contain a lot of asbestos-containing materials (ACM).
Now, these materials are generally safe as long as they remain undamaged and undisturbed. But, where refurbishment or demolition projects are taking place, especially in large industrial or commercial buildings, the UK has stringent regulations to control by whom and how asbestos is removed. This is known as the Control of Asbestos Regulations, 2012. When these regulations are followed and workers are still exposed to asbestos fibres and dust, it is possible to make a claim for asbestos exposure-related health conditions, such as pleural thickening, asbestosis, lung cancer and so on.
The asbestos safety regulations of 1999 insist on the following –
· If existing materials containing asbestos are in perfect condition and not likely to be disturbed, they can be left in place. However, their condition must be monitored and it must be ensured that they are not damaged.
· For those who are responsible for maintaining commercial or industrial properties, it is their responsibility and duty to manage asbestos-containing materials in them.
· If you wish to carry out any maintenance or building work on the premises, or on equipment or plant that might contain asbestos, you must identify the location of asbestos, its condition and type, analyse the risks and control those risks.
· The need for licensed and certified work remain the same. It is recommended that one works with a licensed and highly trained asbestos removal contractor.
· The control limit for asbestos is 0.1 f/cm3
These regulations were updated in 2012 and it additionally states the following –
· Any non-licensed asbestos removal or survey work will have to be notified to the relevant authority
· There must be written records of non-licensed works
· Those who are doing notified non-licensed work with asbestos must be under the proper surveillance of a healthcare provider
To conclude, asbestos is a dangerous and hazardous material. It has been associated with severe illnesses as far back as 1924. Whilst it boasts of amazing fire-retardant qualities, its
tiny fibres can become airborne and once inhaled, they can get trapped in your body. Asbestos fibres cannot be removed easily and they also do not break down. If you do not see immediate signs of asbestos exposure, you might see them after 30 or even 40 years.
So, speak to us today and make sure that your property is free of asbestos.