Asbestos Risk Management in the Workplace
Avanti spends a good deal of time carrying out asbestos management surveys in commercial premises. Many of the building owners and managers we speak to worry that if we find asbestos they’ll have to halt business to get it removed. Actually, this is a worst case scenario that happens very rarely.
The most likely outcome of an asbestos management survey is that Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) are discovered but in an inert state. This means that they are not an immediate danger in the workplace, but need to be carefully monitored in order to comply with Health and Safety requirements
Why is Asbestos a Risk in the Workplace?
Throughout the 20th century asbestos was widely used in the construction of commercial buildings. By the 1950s research began to disclose the acute health risks it posed to employees. Sustained inhalation of asbestos fibres can lead to a range of chronic diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, COPD, pleural thickening and atelectasis.
The HSE report that 5,000 work-related deaths as a result of asbestos inhalation are still occurring each year. Unfortunately, the effects of inhalation are often protracted, so many of the current cases reach back to the middle of the twentieth century. The use of asbestos in construction was banned in the UK in 1999, but buildings constructed prior to that date are likely to contain ACMs.
If you own or manage a workplace that was constructed prior to 1999, there are 5 clear steps you need to take in order to manage the risk of asbestos inhalation:
1. Asbestos Management Survey
An asbestos management survey is a non-intrusive, visual inspection of your premises and plant, carried out by asbestos specialists. If they discover any damaged asbestos, it will be sent off to a UKAS accredited laboratory for further analysis. A full report, subsequent to the survey, will detail ACMs used in construction, their location and their current condition.
2. Removal or Management
If damaged or disturbed asbestos is found, it will need to be removed by an HSE licensed asbestos removal company. A more likely outcome, though, is the discovery of inert ACMs which pose no immediate danger to employees. If this is the case, the asbestos will need to be managed, a process that comprises: risk assessment, risk register, regular monitoring.
3. Asbestos Risk Assessment
The survey report will include a list of locations where asbestos may be present. A risk assessment will work through each of these locations in order to consider the likelihood that it could be disturbed. The most likely reason for disturbance would be renovation or refurbishment.
4. Asbestos Risk Register
The findings of the asbestos management survey need to be recorded clearly, so that any employee can access them. The register will need to be re-visited and updated regularly in order to document any structural changes that may effect, disturb or damage the ACMs.
5. Asbestos Monitoring
The asbestos locations need to be checked regularly to ascertain whether that has been any deterioration that could raise the risks of asbestos inhalation. These checks should be scheduled and results entered in the risk register.
Avanti Asbestos Removals
Avanti is an HSE licensed asbestos removal and management company. If you need to ascertain whether or not your building contains asbestos, we can carry out a management survey and help you to manage ACMs if they are discovered. If we find exposed or dangerous asbestos, we can remove and dispose of it safely.
If your commercial or business premises are found to contain asbestos, Avanti can help you to carry out ongoing asbestos risk management. Call us on0333 0124905