A duty to manage

The recent audit carried out by ATaC (Asbestos Testing and Consultancy association) has identified major flaws in asbestos management in some schools during a pilot scheme.  
All of the schools included within the project had volunteered for the audits and many believed that they were compliant with the requirements of the Duty to Manage (DTM). ATaC’s report has been prepared using the comments recorded by the ATaC members, and provides a cross section of the findings from all of the schools audited as part of the project.

Failing to manage
From a review of the information collected it is apparent that a high percentage of the inspected establishments are failing to comply with the requirements of DTM and that the overall position regarding responsibility is confused.  
In the majority of schools the training of the individuals who are expected to manage asbestos was either poor or non-existent. As a result on the ground inspections are being undertaken by HSE inspectors of 24 local authorities.
The recent release of HSG 264 (Asbestos: The Survey Guide – 29th January 2010) lays an even greater emphasis on clients and duty holders to manage their asbestos and have any surveying work undertaken by a competent surveyor.
Employers of building maintenance and repair workers are required to carry out a risk assessment before undertaking any work which exposes, or is liable to expose, employees to asbestos. They must take the appropriate steps required by the Asbestos Regulations to prevent or reduce these risks. In many cases the employers and their workers have little or no information about the premises where they are going to undertake work, and are not aware if asbestos containing materials are present. Consequently, it is difficult for them to consider the risks, or if precautions may be needed. A duty to manage the risk from asbestos in non-domestic premises was therefore added to the Control of Asbestos at work Regulations in 2002 to address this and the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006  (Regulation 4).

Know your responsibilities
Those who own, occupy, manage or have responsibilities for premises that may contain asbestos will either have:

  • A legal duty to manage the risk from asbestos material, or
  • A legal duty to cooperate with whoever manages that risk.

They will be required to manage the risk from asbestos by:

  • Finding out if there is asbestos in the premises, its extent and what condition it is in
  • Presuming the materials contain asbestos, unless you have strong evidence that they do not
  • Making and keeping up to date a record of the location and condition of the ACM’s or presumed ACM’s in their premises
  • Assessing the risk from the material
  • Preparing a plan that sets out in detail how they are going to manage the risk from this material
  • Taking the steps needed to put their plan into action
  • Reviewing and monitoring their plan and the arrangements made to put it in place
  • Providing information on the location and condition of the material to anyone who is liable to work or disturb it.

In the United Kingdom, work on asbestos has by law to be carried out by a contractor who holds a licence under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, although there are exceptions. Normally, non-licensed work includes work on asbestos-containing textured coatings, asbestos cement and certain work of short duration on asbestos insulating board.

Legal duties
The duties imposed by regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 supplement the provisions of some of the duties imposed by other sets of regulations, in particular the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 which require the client to provide designers and contractors who may be bidding for the work or who they intend to engage), with the project’s specific health and safety information needed to identify hazards and risks associated with the design and construction work.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 place legal duties on employers and employees with regards to asbestos in the workplace. Regulation 10 states: “Every employer shall ensure that adequate information, instruction and training is given to those of his employees who are or are liable to be exposed to asbestos or who supervise such employees...”
Therefore those who employ construction workers to carry out demolition or refurbishment work have a legal duty to ensure that they have adequate information, instruction and training regarding asbestos, as those tradesmen are always liable to be exposed to asbestos as a result of the type of work they carry out.
Asbestos awareness training is a legal requirement for most employees and supervisors working in the construction industry. In addition to initial training, the Approved Code of Practice also states that refresher training should be given at least every year.

For more information
To find out more or to arrange a no obligation meeting to discuss your employees asbestos awareness training needs please contact ARCA on 01283 531126.