Before starting any work that is likely to disturb asbestos, a suitable and sufficient risk assessment must be prepared by the employer.
Whoever carries out the risk assessment must:
- be competent to do the risk assessment
- carry it out before work begins and allow enough time to put appropriate precautions in place
- make sure the assessment is job specific and considers all aspects of the work
Risk assessments are about identifying and controlling the risks:
- establish the potential risk (including general risk such as falls from height) and identify who may be affected
- identify the action to be taken to remove the risk, or if that is not possible, to reduce the risk to as low as possible
- record the findings of the risk assessment, and the action to be taken, and inform employees
- implement the actions to be taken
- review and update the risk assessment as required
Whoever carries out the risk assessment must have a sufficient level of knowledge, training and expertise. This is to make sure that they understand the risks from asbestos (and general risks) to enable them to make informed decisions about the risks and identify the appropriate action required to reduce them. They will also need to be able to estimate the expected level of exposure to help them decide whether or not the control limit is likely to be exceeded.
Content of the risk assessment
A suitable and sufficient risk assessment should include full details of the work to be undertaken and how long the work is expected to take. It should also include:
- details of the type and quantity of the asbestos
- details of the expected level of exposure
- details of the controls to be used to reduce exposure eg use of local exhaust ventilation, controlled wetting, adequate PPE / RPE use of enclosures
- decontamination procedures for tools, equipment and PPE
- details on how asbestos waste will be managed
- emergency procedures
The findings of the assessment should be communicated to employees, and anybody else who could be affected. A copy of the risk assessment must be available on site.
Asbestos essentials includes a number of task sheets which will show you how to safely carry out non-licensed work with asbestos. These sheets can be used to form an important part of the risk assessment if they match the work you are doing.
Further information on risk assessments for licensed work is available in The Licensed Contractors' Guide.