You might need an asbestos management plan. Here’s why and how to go about creating it. If you’re reading this from the USA, you’ll need to check out the relevant ahera regulations, this document deals exclusively with the UK requirements from the HSE.
Asbestos has been around for a very long time, and given that its widespread use as a building material in the UK was only stopped in 1999, there’s still a lot of it about.
It’s, therefore, important that businesses understand their responsibilities when it comes to dealing with asbestos, and the potential legal and health issues that could occur.
Although asbestos can be found in many buildings, its fibres are microscopic and can’t be seen with the naked eye. These fibres can be inhaled and cause serious health problems years after exposure, so they must be dealt with carefully.
The big problem with many buildings is that there are no plans available, and in many cases, we just don’t know whether asbestos is in the environment. It’s not like builders labelled everything as they were putting walls up. And, in many cases, asbestos is part of another material. For example, it could be incorporated into insulation, flooring or walling.
In these cases, the danger isn’t so apparent. Asbestos is only dangerous when the fibres are released, for example, if a wall that contains it is drilled, the asbestos can become airborne.
Here then is the big problem. To the question, “Is there asbestos in the building?”, the answer is often “nobody knows.”
For this reason, an asbestos management plan is a must.
If during a safety inspection, somebody discovers asbestos, then a plan will be required on how to handle it. It will outline the key responsibilities and roles of people within the organisation and who should do what and when.
The plan will outline where asbestos is likely to be found, what type of element contains it and what action needs to be taken.
In some cases, the action might be as simple as “leave undisturbed”, in these cases you may have to ensure safety signs are erected to make it clear that the material shouldn’t be disturbed.
Of course, the duties of the business owner and its staff must also be outlined. For example, the plan might lay out the following duties:
- Find materials that could contain asbestos and check their condition
This is important. The condition of the material will suggest how it should be dealt with. If, for example, asbestos is exposed and constant movement is causing it to be released into the atmosphere, then urgent action is required. If the material is solid, has not been disturbed and is in generally good condition, then a warning might suffice.
- Record the location of all potentially hazardous materials
If materials get moved around, then their location must be tracked.
- If unsure, presume materials contain asbestos
If your building was built before 1999, then there’s a fair chance it contains at least some asbestos, so always assume it does. However, even in buildings built after 2000, an audit should be carried out to make sure asbestos isn’t about.
- If anyone is at particular risk – ensure they know the location and condition of all potentially hazardous materials.
Call in expert help
If you find asbestos, your management plan should give enough information so that an expert asbestos removal company can inspect it, and get to work.
Unless any potential asbestos-containing material can be removed without disturbing it (and you can guarantee that), then it’s prudent to call an expert company in.
An example asbestos management plan
If you suspect there may be asbestos in your building, then you can check out the HSE website here, where they have all the details you need to enable you to create your own asbestos management plan, together with a lot of information on the safe handling of asbestos and your responsibilities. They also have a sample asbestos management plan for many situations.
You can also call us on 01299 251083, and we’d be happy to help with asbestos auditing, as well as in the creation of your management plan.