When am I at risk?
You are mostly at risk when:
- You are working on an unfamiliar site
- The building you are working on was built before the year 2000
- Asbestos-containing materials were not identified before the job was started
- Asbestos-containing materials were identified but this information was not passed on by the people in charge to the people doing the work
- You don't know how to recognise and work safely with asbestos
- You know how to work safely with asbestos but you choose to put yourself at risk by not following proper precautions, perhaps to save time or because no one else is following proper procedures
Remember, as long as the asbestos is not damaged or located somewhere where it can be easily damaged it won't be a risk to you.
- You can't see or smell asbestos fibres in the air.
- The effects of being exposed to asbestos take many years to show up - avoid breathing it in now.
- Smoking increases the risk many times.
- Asbestos is only a danger when fibres are made airborne and breathed in.
Are you sure that you don't come in to contact with asbestos?
Also check the equipment and method sheets for details on what to use and how, and whether the activity needs to be notified.
- Heating and ventilation engineers
- Demolition workers
- Carpenters and joiners
- Roofing contractors
- Painters and decorators
- Construction workers
- Fire and burglar alarm installers
- Shop fitters
- Gas fitters
- Computer installers
- General maintenance staff eg caretakers
- Telecommunications engineers
- Building surveyors
- Cable layers
This list does not include all occupations where you may come in to contact with asbestos. Some of the places where you may find it can be found in our interactive diagram.
It's not easy to tell if materials contain asbestos from how they look. It can only be properly identified in a specialist laboratory. But here are a few examples; some pictures are also featured in the asbestos picture gallery:
- Asbestos used as packing between floors and in partition walls
- Sprayed ('limpet') asbestos on structural beams and girders
- Lagging on pipework, boilers, calorifiers, heat exchangers etc
- Asbestos insulating board - ceiling tiles, partition walls, service duct covers, fire breaks, heater cupboards, door panels, lift shaft lining, fire surrounds, soffits etc.
- Asbestos cement products such as roof and wall cladding, bath panels, boiler and incinerator flues, fire surrounds, gutters, rainwater pipes, water tanks etc.
- Other products such as floor tiles, mastics, sealants, rope seals and gaskets (in pipework etc.), millboard, paper products, cloth (fire blankets, etc.) and bituminous products (roofing felt, etc)
Some of the examples listed above can only be carried out by a contractor who has been granted a licence from HSE, details of this can be found in the licensing section of this website. Other jobs can be carried out using the task sheets, (make sure you use the correct sheet for the job). Also check the equipment and method sheets for details on what to use and how.
How do I deal with asbestos waste?
Make sure you double-bag it and label as asbestos waste. You can then get in contact with the Local Authority or Environment Agency to find out if they will assist you in disposing of it, they may charge for this service. Alternatively, you can contact the Environment Agency or if based in Scotland, SEPA. The waste must be disposed of at a licensed tip.