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General Questions

Asbestos is the name for a group of natural occurring mineral fibres which are strong and both heat and chemically resistant. Due to these properties, asbestos was commonly used in the past as insulation and fire proofing. It was also used as a component in other building materials. There are three main types of asbestos found in the UK – chrysotile (white asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos).

Asbestos can be found in any industrial, commercial, public or residential building built or refurbished before the year 2000. Asbestos was widely used in a large variety of construction materials for a number of purposes e.g. flooring, walls, ceiling, roofs, heating systems and equipment. A detailed survey will be required to identify where asbestos is present in your building. An asbestos survey must be carried out by a competent person

The duty to manage asbestos

 

The legislation that sets the rules for asbestos and asbestos surveys is the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012. Contained in section 4 of the regulations, is the duty to manage. This is directed at those who manage non-domestic properties, built before 2000. These people are responsible for protecting others from the risk of asbestos exposure. They need to protect employees and people who use the premises in other ways.

 

What premises are affected by the duty to manage?

 

Non-domestic properties
The duty covers all non-domestic properties built before 2000. Such as industrial, commercial or public buildings, including, but not exclusive to:

 

Factories
Warehouses
Offices
Shops
Hospitals
Schools
Care homes
Dental and G.P. practices
Leisure centres
Domestic properties

 

The duty also covers ‘common’ areas of some domestic buildings. Blocks of flats have areas such as:
 
Corridors
Lift shafts and lifts
Foyers
Staircases
Roof spaces
Outhouses
Yards
 
Areas such as these are also covered by the duty to manage.
For domestic properties such as your own home, there is no legal requirement to hold asbestos information. Despite this, ahead of refurbishment works, a survey will protect you and any tradespeople involved in your project. Increasingly, an asbestos survey is needed before purchasing a home. This can highlight the presence of asbestos and be a point for negotiation

The risk associated with exposure to asbestos relates to the possibility that the fibres within the asbestos containing material (ACM) can become released into the air and are then inhaled. Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres can lead to asbestos-related diseases (mainly cancers of the chest and lungs). These diseases will not occur immediately and can take from 15 – 60 years to develop. Note, that as long as asbestos is in good condition and there is no disturbance or damage to the ACM, it will not pose a risk to health as fibres will not be released.

The term ACM stands for asbestos containing material. This abbreviation is used a lot within our industry.

NADIS is a term used for testing asbestos, if the product is NADIS this means there is NO ASBESTOS DETECTED IN SAMPLE.

These are types of asbestos fibre, serpentine is hydrophilic (absorbs water) and amphibole is hydrophobic (rejects water) these are split into 2 main classes of asbestos.
 
Serpentine – Serpentine class fibres are curly in appearance. There is only one member in this class of asbestos, called Chrysotile.
 
Amphibole – Amphibole class fibres are needle-like in form. The remaining 5 types of asbestos fall into this category, including Crocidolite, Amosite, Tremolite, Anthophyllite and Actinolite.
The duty-holder, building owner, employer and surveyor need to be clear on the type of survey needed, where the survey is needed, and what records should result.
There are two types of survey for ACM’s.
 
Management survey
 
The Management Survey purpose is required to manage ACM’s during the normal occupation and use of premises. The duty-holder can make a Management Survey where the premises are simple and straightforward. Otherwise, a surveyor is needed.
A Management Survey aims to ensure that:
nobody is harmed by the continuing presence of ACM’s in the premises or equipment.
That the ACM’s remain in good condition
That nobody disturbs it accidentally
The Survey must locate ACM’s that could be damaged or disturbed by normal activities, by foreseeable maintenance, or by installing new equipment.
It involves minor intrusion and minor asbestos disturbance to make a Materials Assessment.
This shows the ability of ACM’s, if disturbed, to release fibres into the air. It guides the client, eg in prioritising any remedial work.
 
Refurbishment / demolition survey
 
The Refurbishment / demolition Survey is required where the premises, or part of it, need upgrading, refurbishment or demolition. The Survey does not need a record of the ACM’s condition. Normally, a surveyor is needed for Refurbishment / demolition Surveys.
A Refurbishment / demolition Survey aims to ensure that:
Nobody will be harmed by work on ACM’s in the premises or equipment.
Such work will be done by the right contractor in the right way.
The Survey must locate and identify all ACM’s before any structural work begins at a stated location or on stated equipment at the premises.
It involves destructive inspection and asbestos disturbance.
The area surveyed must be vacated, and certified ‘fit for reoccupation’ after the survey.
Mesothelioma
 
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lung, heart, abdomen, or testicles. Researchers have discovered that Mesothelioma can only be caused by asbestos exposure. This form of cancer is hard to diagnose until it has reached other parts of the body, but typically takes 15-60 years after asbestos exposure for symptoms to develop.
 
 
Lung cancer
 
One of the most common illnesses caused by asbestos-exposure is lung cancer, with over 4000 people being diagnosed every single year. The disease occurs when fine fibres settle on the lungs, which causes cancerous tumours to form. Although lung cancer can be life-threatening, it is possible to be treated if it is caught early enough.
 
Asbestosis
 
Asbestosis is a condition that causes scarring on the lungs after the inhalation of asbestos. While cancer tumours very rarely form, it does cause the lungs to grow weaker over time and leads to symptoms including shortness of breath, tiredness and a persistent cough.
We commonly forget there is actually six main types of asbestos but in the UK we typically only come across three main ones, Chrysolite (White Asbestos), Amosite (Brown Asbestos) and Crocidolite (Blue Asbestos).

 

Chrysotile (white asbestos) is the most commonly used form of asbestos. It can be found today in the roofs, ceilings, walls and floors of homes and businesses. Manufacturers also used chrysotile asbestos in automobile brake linings, gaskets and boiler seals, and insulation for pipes, ducts and appliances.
Amosite (brown asbestos) was used most frequently in cement sheets and pipe insulation. It can also be found in insulating board, ceiling tiles and thermal insulation products.
 
Crocidolite (blue asbestos) was commonly used to insulate steam engines. It was also used in some spray-on coatings, pipe insulation, plastics and cement products.
 
Anthophyllite was used in limited quantities for insulation products and construction materials. It also occurs as a contaminant in chrysotile asbestos, vermiculite and talc. It may have a grey, dull green or white colour.
 
Tremolite and actinolite are not used commercially, but they can be found as contaminants in chrysotile asbestos, vermiculite and talc. These two chemically similar minerals can be brown, white, green, grey or transparent.

The word friable or friability means how easily the product breaks or crumbles. In the asbestos industry, this is particularly important as this tells us what precations are needed for certain products and weather they are Non-Licensed or Licensed products, or if it is likely for the product to break during removal. Products that are easily broken and crumble are higher risk products as they have the ability to release a greater amount of fibre’s.

Only carry out work if you are properly trained, insured and have the right equipment (for low risk non-licenced work). High risk products must be carried out by a asbestos licence holder contractor.
 
Waste must be packed in UN-approved packaging with a CDG hazard label and asbestos code information visible. Double-wrap and label asbestos waste. Standard practice is to use a red inner bag with asbestos warnings, and a clear outer bag with the CDG label, if required. The document EM9 can be found within asbestos essentials Non-licensed tasks online, this information will help employers and the self-employed to comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It is also useful for trade union and employee safety representatives.
 
Remember:
 
• Asbestos fibres can cause fatal lung disease and lung cancer.
• Check what you’re working on before you start.
This guidance is issued by the Health and Safety Executive. Following the guidance is not compulsory, unless specifically stated, and you are free to take other action. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to this guidance.
Disposal of asbestos waste – Avoid breaking up large pieces of asbestos waste. Instead double wrap in suitable polythene sheeting (1000-gauge) and label accordingly.
 
To transport waste, you need a High Tier waste carriers licence. If you carry waste, use a sealed skip, or a vehicle with the following: segregated compartment for asbestos; easily cleanable; lockable (it is not good enough to throw sheeting over a standard skip). Otherwise, arrange for transport by a registered waste carrier.
Safe disposal – make sure you use a licensed disposal site. Complete a Waste Consignment Note. Keep copies of these documents for three years.
Asbestos can be found in any building that was either built or refurbished before the year 2000 in the UK. It is highly recommended that you have an asbestos survey carried out to give you the best fighting chance of not accidently disturbing any asbestos.
 
Commercial buildings under the law must have a minimum of a management survey/ management plan and have annual asbestos survey’s/inspections to comply with their duty of care, this means they must ensure any asbestos products within there premises are in good condition and are not likely to be disturbed or damaged as they have a duty to protect their employees, clients, customers etc essentially anyone that may enter the property, or potentially be exposed to this danger.
A Commercial premises would be any premises that is used for financial gain, this includes but is not limited to, Private rented properties, leased business permeases etc.

Popcorn celling, textured coating, artex all refer to the same product. this is a coating applied to ceilings and walls which did sometimes contain asbestos. The best & first thing to do is to find out if your textured coating even contains asbestos! This can be done by a competent person taking a sample and sending off for analysis or by having a full Management or Refurbishment & Demolition survey carried out.

Most higher risk work with asbestos must only be done by a licensed contractor but any decision on whether particular work is licensable is based on the risk. Licensed work is explained at ‘Licensable work with asbestos’.
To be exempt from needing a licence the work must be:
Sporadic and of low intensity – to be considered sporadic and of low intensity the concentration of asbestos in the air should not exceed 0.6f/cm3 measured over 10 minutes.

 

Carried out in such a way that the exposure of workers to asbestos will not exceed the legal control limit of

 
 

0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre of air (0.1 f/cm3) (averaged over a four hour period).

 

Meet at least one of the four following conditions:

 

It is a short non-continuous maintenance task, with only non-friable materials (friability describes how likely an ACM is to release asbestos fibres when worked on, so non-friable materials will only release a small number of fibres during work); or
It is a removal task, where the ACMs are in reasonable condition and are not being deliberately broken up, and the asbestos fibres are firmly contained within a matrix, eg the asbestos is coated, covered or contained within another material, such as cement, paint or plastic;

 

or

 

It is a task where the ACMs are in good condition and are being sealed or encapsulated to ensure they are not easily damaged in the future;

 

or

 

It is an air monitoring and control task to check fibre concentrations in the air, or it’s the collection and analysis of asbestos samples to confirm the presence of asbestos in a material.
Examples of non-licensed work with asbestos
Cleaning up small quantities of loose/ fine debris containing ACM dust (where the work is sporadic and of low intensity, the control limit will not be exceeded and it is short duration work).

 

Drilling of textured decorative coatings for installation of fixtures/fittings

 

Encapsulation and sealing-in work on asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) that are in good condition
Maintenance work involving:
asbestos cement products (eg on roof sheeting, tiles and rainwater goods)
asbestos in ropes, yarns and woven cloth. Asbestos gaskets or asbestos rope cords (including removal as part of repair and upkeep of equipment) if this can be done without substantial breakage.

 

asbestos-containing thermoplastic and vinyl floor tiles, bitumen roof felt, shingles, damp-proofing coatings, and mastics. Asbestos-containing felt and paper
plastic paint coatings, PVC floors, panels and sealing compounds.

 

asbestos-containing conveyor belts/drive belts, bonded rubber, electric cables
resin-based ACMs such as friction products (eg brake linings)
Painting/repainting AIB that is in good condition
Removal of:
Asbestos cement products, (eg roof sheeting and rainwater goods) provided the material is carefully handled/removed without breaking up; this includes work with asbestos cement which is weathered but not otherwise substantially damaged
small areas of textured decorative coatings using suitable dust-reducing methods, to support other activities such as installation/replacement of smoke alarms and light fittings
textured decorative coatings provided that this can be done without deterioration of the material, (eg if the backing board is carefully cut around to achieve virtually intact removal)
loosely fixed (eg screwed) asbestos insulating board (AIB) panels in order to gain access to areas for other maintenance activities (eg under a bath to carry out pipework maintenance, or for access to a ceiling void for repair of lighting).
 
This also includes re-attaching the panels after the work is done
an AIB door with asbestos fire proofing
where to find asbestos
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