How should I handle it?
Working with asbestos
It's possible that you've worked with, or disturbed asbestos before, but now you're clued up on how asbestos can affect your life, make sure you avoid disturbing it, or are trained and always work with it safely.
Always ask your boss if the building has been checked for asbestos, it's your right to be protected from this dangerous substance.
In non-domestic buildings you have a right to be given information about the condition and location of asbestos by the person who manages the building, before you start work, you must pass this information on to anyone working for you on the job. You should ask for this when tendering or quoting for work, the information about asbestos will help you to cost the job correctly, plan the work safely, preventing potentially expensive surprises on site.
So before you start work on anywhere built before the year 2000, check that:
- You are not working on asbestos-containing products
- For domestic premises, your boss has told you where asbestos can be found on site
- For non-domestic premises, you have seen the information on the location and condition of asbestos before you start work
Don't start work if:
- You are not sure if there is asbestos where you are working
- The asbestos materials are sprayed coatings, board or insulation and lagging on pipes and boilers - only licensed contractors should work on these
- You have not been trained to do non-licensed work with asbestos. Basic awareness training is not enough
You should only continue to work if:
- The work has been properly planned and the right precautions are in place (eg. you have the right equipment)
- The materials are asbestos cement, textured coatings and certain other materials which do not need a licence (listed in Asbestos Essentials)
- You have had training in asbestos work and know how to work with it safely
If you need to work with asbestos, make sure that you:
- Use hand tools - not power tools
- Keep materials damp - not too wet
- Wear a properly fitted, suitable mask (eg. disposable FFP3 type). An ordinary dust mask will not be effective
- Don't smoke, eat or drink in the work area
- Double-bag asbestos waste and label the bags properly
- Clean up as you go - use a special (Class H) vacuum cleaner, not a brush
- After work, wipe down your overalls with a damp rag or wear disposable overalls (Type 5)
- Always remove overalls before removing your mask
- Don't take overalls home to wash
- Wear boots without laces or disposable boot covers
- Put disposable clothing items in asbestos waste bags and dispose of them properly
- Don't carry asbestos into your car or home
Asbestos Essentials task sheets will show you how to do a range of non-licensed tasks safely. They are free to download at: