Notifiable Non-Licensed Work (NNLW)

All non-licensed work needs to be carried out with the appropriate controls in place. However, for some types of work , employers must meet additional requirements.  This is known as notifiable non-licensed work or NNLW, and requires employers to:

  • notify work with asbestos to the relevant enforcing authority
  • designate (identify) areas where the work is being done
  • ensure medical examinations are carried out
  • maintain registers of work (health records)

Is my work NNLW?

You will need to decide if the work you plan to do is licensed, NNLW or non-licensed in each case. This will depend on the type of work you are going to do, the type of material you are going to work on and its condition. Identifying the type of asbestos-containing material (ACM) to be worked on and assessing its condition are important parts of your risk assessment, which needs to be completed before you start work.

First, decide if the work is licensable or not.

If the work is not licensable, you then need to decide if it is NNLW.  To do this you must consider:

The type of work you are planning to do

  • Maintenance eg drilling holes to attach fittings or pass cables through, painting, cleaning etc. Maintenance includes some removal where it is incidental to the main task, eg removing an asbestos ceiling tile to allow inspection.
  • Removal eg as part of a refurbishment or redesign project.
  • Encapsulation eg work to enclose or seal asbestos materials in good condition.
  • Air monitoring and control, and the collection and analysis of samples.

The asbestos type

  • Is it friable? Friable means easily crumbled or reduced to powder.  So the more friable a material is, the more likely it will release asbestos fibres when worked on and the greater the risk of exposure. Work which disturbs more friable materials, eg asbestos pipe insulation, will tend to be NNLW and work which disturbs the least friable materials, eg asbestos cement, can normally be treated as non-licensed work.
  • How firmly is the asbestos bonded in a matrix? (For removal work only).  Bonded in a matrix means the asbestos is coated, covered or contained within another material, such as cement, paint or plastic.  ACMs of this type in good condition can usually be treated as non-licensed work.  However  where they are significantly damaged, and so more likely to release fibres, they will need to be treated as NNLW.

The material's condition

  • Has the material been damaged or is it in poor condition? Removal of ACMs in poor condition eg due to flood or fire damage, will normally need to be treated as NNLW.
  • Will the materials' matrix be destroyed when worked on? eg deteriorating textured decorative coatings eg 'Artex' with gel or steam to remove it, will normally need to treated as NNLW.

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

  • 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)

Minor, 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)

Removal of:

  • asbestos cement products (eg roof sheeting) where the material has been substantially damaged or broken up (eg as a result of fire or flood damage)
  • asbestos cement products (eg roof sheeting) where the removal activity will mean that 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

Examples of non-licensed work with asbestos


  • 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
  • of 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
  • without deterioration, of textured decorative coatings (eg if the backing board is carefully cut around to achieve virtually intact removal)
  • and re-attachment of 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)
  • of an AIB door with asbestos fire proofing

Maintenance work:

  • involving asbestos cement products (eg on roof sheeting, tiles and rainwater goods)
  • involving asbestos in ropes, yarns and woven cloth
  • on asbestos gaskets or asbestos rope cords (including removal as part of repair and upkeep of equipment) if this can be done without substantial breakage
  • involving asbestos-containing thermoplastic and vinyl floor tiles, bitumen roof felt, shingles, damp-proofing coatings, and mastics
  • of asbestos-containing felt and paper
  • involving plastic paint coatings, PVC floors, panels and sealing compounds
  • on asbestos-containing conveyor belts/drive belts, bonded rubber, electric cables
  • of resin-based ACMs such as friction products (eg brake linings)

Short duration work:

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

Other 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
  • painting/repainting AIB that is in good condition
  • 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)
  • 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 licensable work

Work on:

  • removing sprayed coatings (limpet asbestos)
  • removal or other work which may disturb pipe lagging
  • loose fill insulation
  • 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

All non-licensed and notifiable non-licensed work with asbestos needs to 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.

If you determine that the work you are about to do is notifiable non-licensed work (NNLW), the section below on notification explains how you comply with the additional requirements.


Employers need to notify the relevant enforcing authority of any NNLW with asbestos:

  • to notify you need to go to the online notifications form (via either a computer or Smartphone)
  • all three possible regulators can be notified via this database - HSE, Local Authorities and the Office of Rail and Road (see table below)
  • notice is required before the work starts - there is no minimum notice period
  • you do not need to wait for permission from the enforcing authority – the database will provide a PDF copy of your notification
  • if you are doing a project with multiple NNLW jobs you can notify once for the whole project
  • if you are a licensed asbestos contractor carrying out NNLW work, you will still need to notify
  • the online form is the only method of notification - you can't notify by phone or post
Enforcing authority to notify based on the type of premises/activity
Type of premises/activity Enforcing authority
Shops, offices, separate catering services, launderettes, sport, entertainment and recreational activities, exhibitions, church or religious meetings, hotels, camping and caravan sites, wholesale and retail storage LA (Local Authority)
Factories and factory offices, civil engineering, construction and demolition sites, hospitals, research and development establishments, local government services and educational establishments, fairgrounds, radio, television and film broadcasting, sea going ships, docks, transport undertakings, domestic premises, quarries, farms (and associated activities), horticultural premises and forestries, and offshore installations HSE (Health & Safety Executive)
Licensed nuclear sites Office of the Nuclear Regulator
Railways, railway lines, signal boxes ORR (Office of Rail and Road)

Designating areas

All areas where there is NNLW taking place must be designated and marked with a suitable warning notice.  These areas must be restricted to those carrying out the work. 

Food and drink must never be consumed in designated areas.

Medical surveillance

By 30 April 2015, all workers carrying out NNLW will need to have had a medical examination. Examinations will then need to be repeated at least every 3 years, as long as the worker continues to do NNLW. After April 2015, workers carrying out NNLW for the first time will have to have an examination before they can start such work:

  • medical examinations must include an examination of the chest and a lung function test
  • they need to be carried out by a licensed medical practitioner, eg a GP
  • those workers already under surveillance via a licensed contractor and in possession of a valid certificate do not need to have the NNLW medical
  • medical examinations should be carried out in work time at the employers' expense
  • the fee should be agreed with the doctor before the examination is carried out- HSE can accept no responsibility for remuneration matters
  • the doctor must issue a certificate to confirm the examination has taken place and on what date - the employer needs to keep this certificate for 4 years

Guidance for doctors conducting these medical examinations is available online.

Record keeping

Employers need to keep a register (health record) of NNLW with asbestos for each employee exposed to asbestos:

This must include:

  • the nature and duration of work with asbestos and estimated exposure for each individual worker
  • dates of the worker's medical examinations

Record keeping may be as simple as writing down the names of workers on the job on your copy of the notification or keeping copies of the notification form for each person carrying out NNLW work, as the notification copy will document the nature of the job and type of asbestos from which likely exposure can be estimated.

More detailed medical records will be kept by the doctor.

Registers of work (health records) must be kept for 40 years (and offered to HSE or the individual concerned should the business cease trading).

The need to record exposure does not mean that every non licensed task must have air sampling. There will often be published exposure figures or knowledge within the industry about exposures found at similar lower risk work done in the past. If a task is unusual, then sampling may be required.

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Updated: 2024-07-09