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Safety Nudges

Asbestos

Published by Safety Net Team

November 22, 2022

Asbestos is a generic term for a group of fibrous minerals formerly widely used because of its incombustibility, good electrical and heat-insulating properties and strength.
However, exposure to asbestos fibres can have serious adverse health effects. Annual deaths attributed to asbestos exposure are currently in excess of 5000 in the UK and are said to have peaked around 2020. Strict legislative controls are in place for asbestos encountered in the workplace.
This topic covers the main requirements on duty holders and employers to manage or remove asbestos-containing materials within buildings where asbestos may be present.
Employers’ Duties
Employers are required to:
• ensure, so far as is reasonable practicable, the health and safety at work of all employees
• prevent the exposure of employees to asbestos
• identify whether their building contains asbestos, what condition it is in and assess the risk, eg if it is likely to release fibres — if there is a risk, employers must make a plan to manage the risk and protect employees and other persons from exposure to asbestos
• apply the measures identified unless another party is responsible for maintaining and repairing all or part of the property, or the employer does not have control of the building
• to use contractors licensed by the Health and Safety Executive for any work with asbestos insulation or asbestos insulation board, with the exception of work in which the exposure is sporadic or of low intensity
• ensure that asbestos waste is transported in sealed, labelled containers with consignment notes, and disposed of at licensed sites
• make no use of any product that contains asbestos.
Employees’ Duties
Employees are required to:
• make full and proper use of any control measures
• use respiratory protective equipment and protective clothing properly, keep it in the places provided and report any defects to their employers
• follow carefully all the procedures set out in the employer’s assessment and plan of work, including those for changing and decontamination
• attend any required medical examinations
• report to the employer the disturbance of any asbestos, or the presence of any asbestos which is not already known.

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