Working safely with asbestos
Make sure you work safely by taking appropriate precautions when carrying out any work that could disturb asbestos.
- stop work and speak to your employer, or the building owner if you are suspicious something may be asbestos or if you think the work might need to be carried out by a licensed contractor
- follow the plan of work and the essentials guidance sheets; make sure you use the right sheet for the job
- make sure you take account of other risks such as work at height
- use your protective equipment, including a suitable face mask, worn properly
- clean up as you go - stop waste building up
- make sure waste is double-bagged and is disposed of properly at a licensed tip
- wash before breaks and before going home
- use methods that create a lot of dust, like using power tools
- sweep up dust and debris - use a Type H vacuum cleaner or wet rags
- take home overalls used for asbestos work
- reuse disposable clothing or masks
- eat or drink in the work area
What should those in charge of the job do?
- find out if asbestos-containing materials are present and plan the work to avoid disturbing these materials if possible
- ensure that anyone who is going to work on asbestos material has had appropriate information, instruction and training and is supervised
- know what work can be carried out on asbestos-containing materials, ie does this work need to be carried out by a licensed contractor
- take account of other risks as well as asbestos, eg work at height, and take the precautions necessary to do the job safely
- use the equipment and method sheets and the right task sheet to make sure that the job is carried out properly and that exposure to asbestos is kept as low as possible
- prepare a plan of work, explaining what the job involves, the work procedures, and what controls to use
- provide you with the right equipment, which is clean, in good working order, and protects you against asbestos
- train you in using this equipment
- make sure the work area is inspected visually at the end of the job, to check it's fit for reoccupation
- make arrangements for the safe disposal of any asbestos waste
- consult the health and safety representative (if there is one)
What does the law require?
There are a number of sets of regulations, which cover work with all types of asbestos-containing material; they place duties on 'dutyholders', employers and the self employed. A quick summary of these regulations can be found in the asbestos regulations section of this website.