Companies Struggling With Asbestos Risk Assessments, Says Legislation Expert

17  Gareth Billinghurst compressThe risks associated with asbestos are still not given the time and severity that they warrant and facilities throughout the UK are still not following their legal responsibilities, according to specialists in environmental and H&S legislation Cedrec.

The new style of asbestos controls, originally set under the Control of Asbestos Regulations SI 2006/2739, and tightened further through the more recent Control of Asbestos Regulations SI 2012/632, are still not happening says Cedrec’s auditor and director Gareth Billinghurst.

Companies are still struggling to deal with the requirements to carry out risk assessments, produce a written asbestos plan or manage accidental exposure while many facilities are having problems with the most basic of issues, like ensuring all risk areas are labelled, and that those labels are legible and up-to-date.

There is also the concern that competent persons are not being used to carry out the site investigation or maintain the plans and Billinghurst advises firms to check that they have an appropriate plan that comes from a risk assessment.

“This plan needs to identify the risk areas, as well as the control measures you are using to remove the risk of exposure to asbestos. It is also important that your plan makes provision to monitor the condition of any asbestos on-site.

“This needs to be done regularly as asbestos can easily deteriorate. If there is an accident in a high risk area, you need to ensure you control the immediate risk, but remember to update your plan.

“Likewise, if asbestos is identified on your site and work is carried out, the plan again needs to be updated. The most common fault in asbestos management is when any work is done to remove it – you need to make sure you take down yours signs and update your plan.

“If you have good procedures, arrangements and regularly review you plan then you can be confident that you are controlling the risk. Whatever you do don’t get a company in to produce your plan then place it in a drawer somewhere out of sight. That would be no use to anyone and you would be breaking the law.”

He recommends the new ACoP ‘L143 – Managing and working with asbestos’ (published December 2013) for those responsible for premises and facilities management.

This will help them understand how to interpreted and comply with the Asbestos Regulations and also adds some clarity on areas such as what is classified as Non-Licenced Works (NLW) such as work on roofing asbestos in good condition and Notifiable Non-Licenced Work (NNLW) including roofing asbestos that is substantially damaged or broken up.

Cedrec specialises in providing public and private sector organisations with help and advice in understanding, interpreting and complying with environmental legislation and regulations. The company offers a range of specialist consultancy and subscriptions services.