5. Carrying out an asbestos risk assessment
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Before starting any work that is likely to disturb asbestos, an employer must carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.
When assessing the risk, the employer must take account of the information provided by the building owner or landlord.
If the employer doesn’t have enough information, they may need to arrange a survey and analysis of representative samples to determine the presence, type and condition of asbestos.
How to do a risk assessment
The employer, or whoever carries out the risk assessment on their behalf, must:
- be competent to do the risk assessment
- do it before work starts and allow enough time to put appropriate controls in place
- make sure the assessment is specific to the actual tasks to be done and considers all aspects of the work
Risk assessments are about identifying hazards and controlling the risks from them. This means:
- first, decide if it’s possible to do the building, repair or maintenance work without the risk of asbestos exposure
- if that's not possible, identify who might be at risk and the level of possible asbestos exposure from the work
- you can then decide which work methods to use for effective risk control
A risk assessment should include full details of the work to be carried out and how long it is expected to take.
In line with the Control of Asbestos Regulations, your risk assessment must include:
- how the work will be carried out and the expected scale and duration
- the types of asbestos and results of any survey or analysis or a statement that assumes asbestos is present
- the type, quantity, amount, means of attachment, and condition of the asbestos-containing materials present
- the expected level of exposure
- the controls that will be used to reduce exposure, for example local exhaust ventilation or controlled wetting
- a statement explaining why any work with asbestos is not licensable, and whether it is notifiable non-licensed work
- decontamination procedures for tools, equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE)
- how asbestos waste will be managed and disposed of at a licensed site
- emergency procedures
The detailed guidance in the Approved Code of Practice on managing and working with asbestos explains what you must do to carry out a risk assessment when work involves asbestos.
Our Asbestos essentials task sheets explain how you can safely carry out non-licensed work. You can use these sheets to form an important part of your risk assessment where they cover the work you're doing.
There is more guidance on asbestos risk assessments and plans of work.
Employers must make sure that whoever carries out the risk assessment and provides advice on the prevention and control of exposure is competent to do this. Whoever carries out the risk assessment should:
- have adequate knowledge, training and expertise in understanding the risks from asbestos and be able to make informed and appropriate decisions about the risks and precautions needed
- know how the work activity may disturb asbestos
- be familiar with and understand the requirements of the Control of Asbestos Regulations
- have the ability and authority to collate all the necessary and relevant information
- be able to assess other non-asbestos risks on site
- be able to estimate the expected level of exposure to decide whether or not the control limit is likely to be exceeded
You should share the findings of your risk assessment with workers, and anybody else who might be affected. A copy of the risk assessment must be available on site.