These came into force on 6 April 2012, updating previous asbestos regulations (2006) to take account of the European Commission’s view that the UK had not fully implemented the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos (Directive 2009/148/EC).
In practice the changes are fairly limited. They mean that some types of non-licensed work with asbestos now have additional requirements, i.e. notification of work, medical surveillance and record keeping. All other requirements remain unchanged.
- If existing asbestos containing materials are in good condition and are not likely to be damaged, they may be left in place; their condition monitored and managed to ensure they are not disturbed.
- If you’re responsible for maintenance of non-domestic premises, you have a ‘duty to manage’ the asbestos in them, to protect anyone using or working in the premises from the risks to health that exposure to asbestos causes. (Please refer to the Approved Code of Practice L127 - Management of asbestos in non-domestic premises.)
- If you want to do any building or maintenance work in premises, or on plant or equipment that might contain asbestos, you need to identify where it is and its type and condition; assess the risks, and manage and control these risks.
- The requirements for licensed work remain the same: in the majority of cases, work with asbestos needs to be done by a licensed contractor. This work includes most asbestos removal, all work with sprayed asbestos coatings and asbestos lagging and most work with asbestos insulation and asbestos insulating board (AIB).
- If you are carrying out non-licensed asbestos work, this still requires effective controls.
- The control limit for asbestos is 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre of air (0.1 f/cm3). The control limit is not a ‘safe’ level and exposure from work activities involving asbestos must be reduced to as far below the control limit as possible.
- Training is mandatory for anyone liable to be exposed to asbestos fibres at work. This includes maintenance workers and others who may come into contact with or disturb asbestos (e.g. cable installers), as well as those involved in asbestos removal work.