6. Deciding if the work must be done by a licensed contractor

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The employer of anyone whose work might involve asbestos has the responsibility for deciding how much risk the proposed work presents.

Depending on the type of work and its level of risk, you must decide if the work:

  • does not need a licence and doesn’t need to be notified
  • must be notified, but no licence is needed
  • must be done by a licensed contractor

When no licence is needed

Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations, work with asbestos-containing material that can be done without a licence must meet specific conditions and be carried out so exposure to workers will not exceed the control limit.

Examples of non-licensed work include:

  • cleaning up small quantities of asbestos dust and debris
  • drilling textured decorative coatings to install fixtures or fittings
  • encapsulation or sealing-in asbestos that is in good condition

There is more guidance, with further examples, explaining what is defined as non-licensed work with asbestos.

When to notify, but no licence is needed

Some non-licensed work must still be notified to the correct authority. This depends on what work you are going to do, the type of asbestos involved and what condition it’s in.

Examples of work you must notify authorities about, but where no licence is needed, include work involving:

  • asbestos cement products (for example roof sheeting) where the material will be substantially damaged or broken up
  • repair of asbestos insulation on a pipe where the exterior coating has been damaged
  • large-scale removal of textured decorative coatings using steaming or gelling methods - beyond that required for maintenance such as installation or replacement of smoke alarms and fittings

Duties for notifiable work

If the work is notifiable, you must:

  • notify the relevant enforcing authority
  • designate the area where the work is being done
  • ensure worker medical examinations are carried out
  • maintain worker health records

There is detailed guidance on notifiable non-licensed work with asbestos including which enforcing authority to notify.

When a licensed contractor is needed

Higher-risk work with asbestos must only be done by a contractor holding a licence from HSE.

Only licensed contractors can carry out the following:

  • any work on sprayed asbestos
  • most repair or any removal of asbestos insulation, for example lagging on pipes and vessels for thermal insulation
  • most work on asbestos insulating boards, such as removal of partition walls, linings and suspended ceilings

There is detailed guidance on licensable work with asbestos.

Information for licensed contractors

Licensed contractors must notify all licensable work to the appropriate authority.

Find out how to apply for a licence

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Updated:2021-03-01