Managing asbestos

Asbestos is a term used for various forms of naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals which were added to building materials used in the UK for fire protection and insulation. 

It can be found in any building constructed before 2000.  

Asbestos still kills around 5,000 workers each year, more than the number of people killed on our roads!

Your Duty to Manage

As an owner, occupier and/or manager of non-domestic premises, you are required to manage the risk from ‘Asbestos Containing Material’ on your premises.  This includes offices, factories, schools, hospitals, public buildings and extends to the ‘common and communal areas’ of domestic premises, such as flats.

Breach of Duty

In 2022, Poundland Limited was fined £565k, with £75k costs, for a series of asbestos management failures between 2011 and 2018.  Before taking on a former Woolworths store in 2011, it hired asbestos consultants to survey the building.  Asbestos was found.  

Although it was monitored annually, Poundland did not formulate a proper asbestos management plan.  They should, by law, have considered the precautions that needed to be taken to ensure that the asbestos remained in a safe condition. 

An enforcement officer noted:

This case shows how important it is for even the largest businesses to take seriously their legal requirement to manage asbestos in premises they use”.

Meeting your Duty

Where asbestos is, or is liable to be, present, you must assess the risks posed by asbestos on your premises, and compile and maintain a written Asbestos Management Plan.

Next steps

Meeting your legal duty can place a significant burden on your business.  The costs of not meeting it could be fatal. 

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