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The duty to manage asbestos

The duty to manage is directed at those who manage non-domestic premises: the people with responsibility for protecting others who work in such premises, or use them in other ways, from the risks to ill health that exposure to asbestos causes.

These pages provide answers to some questions about the duty as well as some further information:

What is the duty?

The duty to manage asbestos is contained in regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It requires the person who has the duty (ie the "dutyholder") to:

There is also a requirement on anyone to co-operate as far as is necessary to allow the dutyholder to comply with the above requirements.

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Who has the duty?

In many cases, the dutyholder is the person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises through an explicit agreement such as a tenancy agreement or contract.

The extent of the duty will depend on the nature of that agreement. In a building occupied by one leaseholder, the agreement might be for either the owner or leaseholder to take on the full duty for the whole building; or it might be to share the duty. In a multi-occupied building, the agreement might be that the owner takes on the full duty for the whole building. Or it might be that the duty is shared - for example, the owner takes responsibility for the common parts while the leaseholders take responsibility for the parts they occupy. Sometimes, there might be an agreement to pass the responsibilities to a managing agent.

In some cases, there may be no tenancy agreement or contract. Or, if there is, it may not specify who has responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises. In these cases, or where the premises are unoccupied, the duty is placed on whoever has control of the premises, or part of the premises. Often this will be the owner.

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What premises are affected?

The duty to manage covers all non-domestic premises. Such premises include all industrial, commercial or public buildings such as factories, warehouses, offices, shops, hospitals and schools.

Non-domestic premises also include those 'common' areas of certain domestic premises: purpose-built flats or houses converted into flats. The common areas of such domestic premises might include foyers, corridors, lifts and lift-shafts, staircases, roof spaces, gardens, yards, outhouses and garages - but would not include the flat itself. Such common areas would not include rooms within a private residence that are shared by more than one household such as bathrooms, kitchens etc in shared houses and communal dining rooms and lounges in sheltered accommodation.

Further detail is set out in a chart of premises and includes which are likely to be classified as domestic or non-domestic for the purposes of the duty to manage.

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How do dutyholders comply?

There are three essential steps:

Further details of these steps can be found on pages 7-13 of this downloadable file 'A short guide to managing asbestos' or by following the step by step online guide 'Managing my asbestos'.

For details of more comprehensive publications see the information and guidance page.

Here are some basic principles to remember:

If any ACMs need to be sealed, encapsulated or removed, remember you will need to employ a licensed contractor if the materials are high risk (eg pipe insulation and asbestos insulating panels). If the materials are lower risk (eg asbestos cement) then an unlicensed but competent contractor may carry out this work. For further details look at the licensing section.

What is HSE doing to encourage compliance with the 'duty to manage' asbestos?

HSE is running a campaign to reduce the risks to ill health for people who use buildings which contain asbestos by:

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Updated 2012-10-17