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Managing asbestos in your premises

It is estimated that over 500,000 non-domestic buildings built before the year 2000 still contain asbestos materials. Read on to find out what your responsibilities as a business owner are to protect your employees and the public from asbestos containing materials.

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It is estimated that over 500,000 non-domestic buildings built before the year 2000 still contain asbestos materials. Read on to find out what your responsibilities as a business owner are to protect your employees and the public from asbestos containing materials. Why managing asbestos is a priority An estimated 4,000 cancer deaths in Britain each year are attributable to past exposure to asbestos fibres, and the death rate from mesothelioma continues to increase. Best estimates are that there are one or two asbestos related lung cancers for each mesothelioma. Due to the 30-40 year average latency period between the exposure to asbestos fibres and the onset of these diseases, currently occurring cases relate to exposure in the past when asbestos was less well regulated than today and more widely used in industry. The key messages are: At around 4,000 deaths per year (15 times the fatal accident rate) asbestos related diseases are still the largest occupational killers in the UK The number of mesothelioma deaths continue to rise and are predicted to peak by 2016 Approximately 25% (taken from the Peto Study of 1995) of those dying from asbestos related disease have worked in the building, maintenance and repair trades at some time during their working lives. Legal requirements The duty to manage asbestos in premises was introduced into law on 21 May 2004 and is enforced under The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. The duty requires those who have responsibilities for maintenance activities in non-domestic premises to assess whether there is any asbestos in their premises, and, depending on its condition, either remove it or manage it - making sure that maintenance or other activities carried out subsequently do not expose the workers to any avoidable risk. They must ensure that information on the location and condition of these materials is given to anyone likely to disturb them. This duty requires the duty holder to take the following key actions: To take reasonable steps to find any asbestos in the premises and assess the condition of these materials To presume that materials do contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not To prepare a record of the location and condition of these asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) and assess the risk from them To prepare and implement a plan to manage those risks, e.g. fibre release from friable AIB panels To provide information on the location and condition of the material to anyone who is liable to disturb it To monitor the condition of the material left in place, and to review the assessment of risk periodically. The dutyholder Regulation 4(1) places a duty on all parties who have, by virtue of any contract or tenancy agreement, an obligation of any extent in relation to the maintenance or repair of premises or of access or egress to premises. These parties might include owners of buildings, tenants, managing agents, etc. It is intended that the existing contractual arrangements for dealing with building related matters should be reflected in respect of the duty to manage asbestos. Regulation 4(2) places a duty on all others (including surveyors, architects etc) to cooperate with the duty holder in order that they are able to comply with their duties under the regulation 4, for example passing on information about the presence of asbestos on the premises.

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