3. Actions to take depending on your job role
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Depending on your job, you will have different actions to take to comply with the law on any work involving asbestos.
This page offers a summary of the actions you must take, whatever your role. Each section provides links to more detailed guidance.
Building owner or landlord
If you are a building owner or landlord, you have a legal duty to manage any asbestos in that building.
Finding out if asbestos is present and identifying its condition
There is guidance to help you:
- find out if asbestos could be present in your building
- assess its type, location and condition by arranging an asbestos survey
The duty to manage covers all non-domestic premises. These are industrial, commercial or public buildings such as:
- factories and warehouses
- public buildings, such as hospitals and schools
The duty to manage does not apply to domestic premises such as owner-occupied homes. But it does apply to the ‘common parts’ of multi-occupancy domestic premises, such as:
- purpose-built flats
- houses converted into flats
There is guidance for dutyholders on:
- common parts of domestic premises and how the duty to manage applies
- responsibilities of landlords who provide social or private housing
A summary of your duties
As part of your duties to manage asbestos in your building, you must:
- find out if asbestos is present
- arrange an asbestos survey
- assess the risk of anyone being exposed to the asbestos
- have an asbestos register, that includes the location, type and condition of the asbestos found
- prepare a plan of how to manage these risks
- put the plan into action, review it and keep it up to date, especially when there has been work on the building
- give this information to anyone who might work on or disturb the asbestos
Other people, like those working on a building, should co-operate with the building owner to comply with the above requirements.
Person responsible for maintenance or repair of a building
Contract or tenancy agreement
If you have a contract or tenancy agreement that says you are responsible for maintaining or repairing premises, you have the same legal duties as building owners or landlords to manage asbestos safely.
You must follow the guidance for building owners of non-domestic premises.
You have a duty to manage asbestos if you are responsible for maintaining or repairing any common parts of domestic premises.
Routine building maintenance
If your work includes routine building maintenance, for example as a caretaker or site manager, you are not responsible for managing asbestos. However, you should be aware of any asbestos in the building and have received asbestos awareness training.
As an employer of anyone whose work might involve asbestos, you must find out if there is asbestos in a building before work starts. For example, ask:
- to see the asbestos management plan including the asbestos register and site plans
- if an asbestos survey has been completed to find out the location and condition of any asbestos in the building, especially where it was constructed or refurbished before 2000
You must also:
- check the information provided on asbestos is sufficient for the work, for example if you are breaking into the building fabric a more intrusive refurbishment survey may be required
- consider if the work can be done without disturbing asbestos
- carry out an asbestos risk assessment and draw up a plan of work to ensure the work is done safely
When work must be done by a licensed contractor
You must confirm the type of asbestos in the building and decide if any or all of the work must be carried out by a licensed contractor.
Our guidance on licensable work with asbestos will help you make that decision.
Write a plan of work
Before any work involving asbestos starts you should write a plan of work (sometimes called a method statement). This should include:
- details of the work to be done
- what measures will be in place to control the risks from asbestos for workers and others who could be affected by the work
The Asbestos essentials task sheets can help you and your workers make sure that exposure to asbestos is kept as low as possible. Use the equipment and method sheets and the right task sheet to prepare a plan of work.
Training and information
If you and your workers are trained and competent to carry out lower-risk, non-licensed asbestos activity, you should write a plan of work before you start.
You should also:
- ensure your employees and other workers under your supervision understand the plan of work, what control measures are in place and how to comply with them
- provide workers with the right equipment, which is clean, in good working order and protects them against asbestos
- train workers in using this equipment
- make sure the work area is inspected visually at the end of the job, to check it's safe for reoccupation
- make arrangements for the safe disposal of any asbestos waste at a licensed or permitted site
- consult the health and safety representative (if there is one)
To help protect yourself and others, it is important to know why asbestos is dangerous and where it can be found.
If you are working on the structure of a building some activities will put you at most risk, including:
- drilling into a wall
- retrofitting (for example, installing a smart meter)
We have a separate worker’s guide to asbestos safety. It covers:
- what you must do as a worker by law
- what your employer must do to protect you and others
- what to do before you get started on any work involving asbestos
- what to do if asbestos is disturbed
- work you can do without a licence but with suitable training
- work that must be carried out by a licensed contractor
If you are a worker in an owner-occupied home, you and your employer must still take action to ensure that you and others are not exposed to asbestos.
All employers must get a licence from HSE before carrying out any licensable work with asbestos.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations define licensable work as follows:
- where the exposure of workers to asbestos is not sporadic and of low intensity
- the risk assessment cannot clearly demonstrate that the control limit will not be exceeded
- work on asbestos coating
Licensable work also includes work on asbestos insulating board or asbestos insulation when the risk assessment demonstrates all of the following:
- it is not short duration work
- exposure is not sporadic and of low intensity
- the control limit will not be exceeded
The licensed contractors’ guide
Our publication Asbestos: The licensed contractors' guide explains safe work practices for asbestos. It’s for people with a licence who repair or remove asbestos-containing materials. It’s also for supervisors of that work, and people with an ancillary licence or who provide asbestos training.
More information about licensing
Find out more about asbestos licensing and what you must do as a licensed contractor.
To help people manage the risk from asbestos in the building an asbestos survey should:
- provide accurate information on the amount and condition of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs)
- assess the level of damage to ACMs and whether remedial action is required
- be used to prepare a record of the location of any known or presumed ACMs in a register and asbestos management plan of the building(s)
- help identify all the ACMs to be removed before refurbishment work or demolition
There are 2 types of survey for ACMs – a management survey and a refurbishment or demolition survey. Find out more about the types of survey.
As a surveyor, you must co-operate with the dutyholder to ensure:
- the appropriate type of survey is completed
- all asbestos is identified, as far as reasonably practicable, within the survey type and agreed scope
- you provide clear instructions to avoid uncertainty
- your report can be used to prepare an asbestos register and building plan
- the dutyholder understands that the survey will help them to manage asbestos and is not the end point in managing asbestos
Detailed guidance on survey planning, carrying out surveys, the survey report and dutyholder’s use of survey information is available in Asbestos: The survey guide.
Analysis of bulk asbestos samples
The only way to confirm if a material contains asbestos is to analyse a sample.
Analysis of asbestos samples is a skilled and specialist task so trained and competent analysts in analytical laboratories must be used.
Sampling and analysis of fibres in air
There is a legal requirement for the premises (or parts of premises) to be thoroughly cleaned following licensed asbestos removal work.
The premises or areas where the removal has taken place must be separately, independently assessed by an analyst to make sure the locations are:
- thoroughly clean
- fit to return to the owner or occupier for re-occupation
Asbestos: The Analysts' Guide is the authoritative source of asbestos analytical procedures in Great Britain. It will help you as an analyst to comply with your legal obligations.