Non-licensed work with asbestos

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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:
    1. 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
    2. 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
    3. 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
    4. 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

Short duration work:

  • to repair minor damage to AIB
  • involving drilling holes in AIB (eg when installing shelving)

Other work:

  • on other materials containing asbestos (such as paints, bitumen, resins, rubber, etc) where the fibres are bound in a matrix which prevents most of them being released (this includes, typically, aged/weathered AC)
  • associated with collecting and analysing samples to identify the presence of asbestos

Further examples of non-licensed work are available in Asbestos Essentials.

Examples of notifiable non-licensed work (NNLW) with asbestos

Removal of:

  • asbestos cement products (eg roof sheeting) where the material will be substantially damaged or broken up (eg as a result of fire or flood damage)
  • asbestos cement products (eg roof sheeting) where the material will be substantially broken up, creating significant quantities of dust and debris (eg 'dropping' an asbestos cement roof)
  • asbestos paper and cardboard products if not firmly bonded in a matrix

Short duration work:

  • to remove asbestos insulating board as part of a refurbishment project
  • involving asbestos insulation eg repairing minor damage to a small section of pipe insulation where the exterior coating has been broken or damaged

Other work on:

  • large-scale removal of textured decorative coatings using steaming or gelling methods (eg beyond that required for maintenance activities such as installation/replacement of smoke alarms and fittings)

Examples of licensable work

Work:

  • removing sprayed coatings (limpet asbestos)
  • removal or other work which may disturb pipe lagging
  • involving loose fill insulation
  • on asbestos millboard
  • cleaning up significant quantities of loose/fine debris containing ACM dust (where the work is not sporadic and of low intensity, the control limit will be exceeded or it is not short duration work)
  • on AIB, where the risk assessment indicates that it will not be of short duration

Some types of non-licensed asbestos work will have additional requirements – notification of work, medical surveillance and record keeping. This work is known as notifiable non-licensed work (NNLW).

Risk assessment

All non-licensed and notifiable non-licensed work with asbestos needs a risk assessment and must be carried out with the appropriate controls in place, and those carrying out the work must have had the correct level of  information, instruction and training, to protect themselves (and others in the area) from the risks to health that exposure to asbestos causes.

Further information

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Updated: 2023-12-05