Licensable work with asbestos

Most higher-risk work with asbestos must only be done by a licensed contractor. Licensable work with asbestos is work:

  • where worker exposure to asbestos is not sporadic and of low intensity; or
  • where the risk assessment cannot clearly demonstrate that the control limit will not be exceeded ie 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre of air (0.1 f/cm3) (averaged over a four hour period); or
  • on asbestos coating; or
  • on asbestos insulation or asbestos insulating board where the risk assessment demonstrates that the work is not short duration work, eg when work with these materials will take no more than two hours in any seven day period, and no one person works for more than one hour in that two hour period.

Some examples on what types of work are considered to be licensable can be found in the table below, but any decision on whether a particular work activity is licensable or not will need to be based on the risk.

Examples of licensable work

  • removing sprayed coatings (limpet asbestos)
  • removal or other work which may disturb pipe lagging
  • any work involving loose fill insulation
  • work on 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)
  • work on AIB, where the risk assessment indicates that it will not be of short duration

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

Removal of:

  • asbestos cement products (eg roof sheeting) where the material will be substantially damaged or broken up (eg as a result of fire or flood damage)
  • asbestos cement products (eg roof sheeting) where the material will be substantially broken up, creating significant quantities of dust and debris (eg 'dropping' an asbestos cement roof)
  • Removal of asbestos paper and cardboard products if not firmly bonded in a matrix

Other work:

  • on 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
  • minor short duration work involving asbestos insulation eg repairing minor damage to a small section of pipe insulation where the exterior coating has been broken or damaged

Examples of non-licensed work with asbestos

  • 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)
  • 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

Maintenance work involving:

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

Removal 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
  • 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
  • textured decorative coatings provided that this can be done without  deterioration of the material, (eg if the backing board is carefully cut around to achieve virtually intact removal)
  • 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).  This also includes re-attaching the panels after the work is done
  • an AIB door with asbestos fire proofing

Short duration work:

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

Other 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.

If the activity is licensable, you will require a licence if you are working with asbestos as an 'asbestos contractor' on someone else's premises, or within your own premises using your own employees.

A licence may include conditions requiring the licence holder to achieve specific objectives or restrict the licence holder to specific work.  For example:

  • for an ancillary task such as scaffolding where the work is licensable;
  • maintaining air extraction equipment where the work is licensable;
  • supervisory work with asbestos where the work is licensable.

All licensable work must be notified to the appropriate enforcing authority using the ASB5 form at least 14 days before the work starts.

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,  mines /quarries and offshore installations, licensed nuclear sites HSE (Health & Safety Executive)
Railways, railway lines, signal boxes ORR (Office of Rail and Road)

For both licensable and non-licensable work you will still need to make sure that you comply with the general requirements in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 to prevent exposure to asbestos.

Please note: It is an offence to carry out licensable work with asbestos without a licence and you could be prosecuted.

If you wish to apply for a licence, or renew an existing licence, and believe you have the required competencies to work with asbestos details on applying can be found on the application pages

Important: We will only grant a licence to those who plan to do licensable work.

Further information

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Updated 2023-05-16