Asbestos management isn’t always easy.
With asbestos used in every application for decades, finding, managing and removing all threats of asbestos can seem difficult. However, like most jobs, if you break it down into simple steps you’ll find it easier to manage any and all asbestos problems. We’ve put together this list of 7 easy steps courtesy of the insightful work of Ian Stone and Neil Munro’s book, Asbestos: The Dark Arts.
1: Identify Asbestos
Duty-holders, business owners and the like are required to identify asbestos materials within their property and check the condition and effect of the material. How can you fix something without knowing how deep the problem goes?
The quickest and easiest way to identify asbestos is to have a professional asbestos survey carried out. A good rule of thumb is to assume asbestos is present until proven otherwise. Make sure you have peace of mind by employing an expert in asbestos management. Preferably a company with years of experience and UKAS accredited surveyors.
Remember it is the duty holder’s responsibility to ensure the inspection is carried out to the correct standard so choosing a professional protects you in the long run.
2: Record Findings
If there is evidence of asbestos it is up to the duty holder to track and keep a record of the asbestos present. This record, or Asbestos Register, must be kept up to date and include information detailing the site plan, asbestos locations, presumed locations and inaccessible areas for study.
This can be done as part of a professional service or by yourself. If you choose to go the solo route it’s worth remembering your findings will have to be completed in line with the HSG264: Asbestos The Surveyors Guide. This, along with every step highlights the importance of following the regulations and guidance surrounding asbestos.
If you decide to leave this task to a professional be sure to keep the report up to date. Just getting a survey isn’t enough, duty holders need to ensure that all information is current and up to date. This means changing the record if the situation changes for better or worse.
3: Assess the Risk
Managing asbestos means preventing people from breathing in asbestos fibres. Duty holders are required to assess the risk to employees, contractors, customers, visitors, residents and anyone else who spends time on the property in question.
One of the easiest ways to do this (and help you comply with your legal duties) is to employ a specialist to carry out a Priority Risk Assessment or PRA. This study is usually part of a full asbestos survey service with the professional providing you with the information to ascertain the priority of asbestos work required. Risk is a careful consideration of the asbestos in the affected areas as well as the habits and practices of the occupants in the building.
Once again this service works best in conjunction with the duty holder. After all the duty holder knows why and when people are in the property and can help the professionals make more informed recommendations.
If you choose to save some money and assess the risk yourself your PRA will have to follow the steps set out in the HSG264. There are also several PRA tools available online.
4: Management Plan
Once all the information has been gathered it needs to be collated into a written plan. This is the responsibility of the duty holder and is referred to as the asbestos management plan or AMP. The plan required will vary from property to property. However, no matter the size of the task the AMP has to be a plan that can be successfully put into effect.
5: Make Asbestos Safe
Once a plan has been put in place it is time to deal with the problem. Duty holders are required to ensure that any and all material is treated as necessary. There are various factors which determine what action is required such as location, condition and frequency of access. This can vary from minor repairs to complete removal.
This part of the process may be difficult to do yourself as there are several assessments that need to be passed for the AMP to be successful. To ensure success employ a contractor who is trained, insured and licensed to work with asbestos (eg. licensed asbestos works). Another factor to consider is certain types of work by a UKAS laboratory will also require accredited independent asbestos air testing.
6: Communicating and Sharing
Duty holders are required to provide information of asbestos management to anyone who is potentially at risk of exposure to asbestos. This information can be supplied in a number of ways, from digital databases to hard copies of the report.
One thing to avoid is database companies that charge a fortune. In the 21st century, the cost of hosting data is becoming less and less as storage and processing power increases. Look around for a database provider that offer fair or even free hosting. The only cost should be if any additional development work is required.
7: Reviewing and Updating
Finally, your asbestos management plan should be continually reviewed and updated. The minimum requirements call for this review every 12 months.
These reviews can be carried out yourself if you are competent and can adhere to all the regulations and demands surrounding asbestos management. Otherwise, consult a professional for updates and revisions. This step is key as it eliminates risk and saves you time by updating the Asbestos Register, AMP, PRAs and database without a reinspection.
As you can see managing asbestos doesn’t have to be a major headache. With a little thought, planning and professional support you can ensure successful asbestos management.Tags: asbestos, Asbestos removal, asbestos surveyor, risk assessment