Managing asbestos in buildings

Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) may be in a building if it was constructed or refurbished before asbestos was banned in 1999.

In order to ensure that risks from asbestos within the workplace are minimised you must follow the five steps:

Identify whether your premises contains ACMs

  • look at building plans, old invoices, plans of work etc, which may give you clues
  • inspect your premises inside and out to identify materials that are or may be asbestos
  • consult others such as architects, employees and safety representatives

To be safe, if you identify materials that may be asbestos you should assume they are. If a material needs sampling to check whether it is an ACM you should use a suitable contractor or suitably trained people.

Assess the condition of ACMs

Check whether:

  • the surface damaged, frayed or scratched
  • surface sealants are peeling or breaking off
  • the material has become detached from its base
  • protective covers missing
  • asbestos dust or debris is near the material

If the ACMs are in poor condition they should be repaired, sealed , enclosed or removed.

Record where the asbestos (or presumed asbestos) is and its condition

  • prepare a drawing or some other record
  • identify its type or some other record
  • identify its type ( if known)
  • identify its form, amount and condition

If there are any areas in your premises you cannot examine (for example, the roof) you should record this.

Assess the risk from ACMs

  • Are people working at or near ACMs?
  • Are they likely to disturb the ACMs?
  • What action is required to manage and control the potential risks?

Prepare and implement an asbestos management plan to manage the risks

As a general guide, if the ACM is in good condition, is not likely to be damaged and is not likely to be worked on or disturbed, it is usually safer to leave it in place and manage it. If the ACM is in poor condition or is likely to be damaged or disturbed, you will need to decide whether to repair it, seal it, enclose it or remove it. If you are unsure seek specialist advice from an asbestos surveyor, a laboratory or a licensed contractor.

The Food and Safety team will become involved when we are notified that asbestos is to be removed from premises where we are the enforcing authority. In addition, if we come across premises that contain asbestos or are suspected to contain asbestos and no action has been taken to manage it, then enforcement action may be taken.

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