8. Relevant legislation

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This page sets out the main relevant legislation that applies to asbestos safety.

Control of Asbestos Regulations

The main rules for safely managing and working with asbestos are the Control of Asbestos Regulations. They explain who has legal duties and what those duties are.

The regulations include:

  • types of work that require a licence and those that don’t
  • requirements of work with asbestos that require a licence
  • requirements for work with asbestos that is non-licensed (including notifiable work)
  • requirements for designating areas where you are working on asbestos, medical surveillance and record keeping

Duty to manage

The main duty to manage asbestos is described in detail in regulation 4. This regulation covers the duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises. It requires dutyholders to identify the location and condition of asbestos in non-domestic premises or common parts of multi-occupancy domestic premises and to manage the risk to prevent harm to workers and building occupants.

Detailed guidance on the Control of Asbestos Regulations

The Approved Code of Practice and guidance sets out the regulations and your legal duties, and gives practical advice on how to comply with them.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH)

The COSHH regulations require employers to prevent or control worker exposure to harmful substances using effective risk management and good control practices for hazardous substances.

In people’s homes, the duty to manage asbestos under regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations does not apply but COSHH will.

The Approved Code of Practice and guidance provides practical advice to help dutyholders comply with the requirements of COSHH.

Health and Safety at Work etc Act

The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSW Act) places general duties on employers such as landlords of domestic premises, and some self-employed people, to do what is ‘reasonably practicable’ to ensure the health and safety of anyone who may be affected by their work, such as tenants.

This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control it in terms of money, time or trouble.

The general duties under the HSW Act apply when the duty to manage asbestos does not. This ensures that the same levels of health and safety are met.

In owner-occupied (privately owned) domestic properties, the owners are not legally responsible for risks to contractors from asbestos, as the owners themselves are not engaged in any work activity.

More on the Health and Safety at Work Act

Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM)

These regulations include requirements for clients and principal designers to work together in assessing the adequacy of existing information, including an asbestos survey, before starting any construction project.

The regulations also require information on asbestos-containing materials to be provided at an early stage as part of a package of information about health and safety risks.

More information on the CDM Regulations

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations

Exposure to asbestos is reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) when a work activity causes the accidental release or escape of asbestos fibres into the air in sufficient quantity to cause damage to health.

If work on asbestos is done without suitable controls, or precautions fail to control exposure, these are 'dangerous occurrences' under RIDDOR and should be reported.

If you need to report a dangerous occurrence relating to asbestos, you should review your asbestos management plan or your working practices.

More guidance on RIDDOR

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Updated:2021-03-01