Asbestos management can be a minefield. Legislation is complicated and media hype has successfully terrified people into thinking that asbestos must be removed immediately. This can sometimes cause people to ignore it because they worry the cost and disruption aren’t manageable. This is the worst thing you can do. In this article we explain who needs an asbestos management plan and who doesn’t, as well as the next steps if you do need one.
First of all let’s deal with a common asbestos myth…
Will I have to remove all the asbestos in my building and will it cost a fortune?
Asbestos is harmful when the fibres are inhaled, and the asbestos needs to be damaged, unsealed or disrupted in order for the fibres to be airborne and for people to breathe them in.
So, if the asbestos is in good condition or in a place where it is very unlikely to be disturbed, you may not need to ‘do’ anything to it, simply label and monitor it and tell people it is there. Often, removal is more dangerous and more expensive than leaving the asbestos in place.
BUT you still need to have assessed the risk presented by any asbestos before you can make that decision. And if you are planning any work, repairs or demolition that might disrupt it, then you definitely need to get an expert involved.
What is an asbestos management plan?
It is a plan of action that brings together your asbestos register (a list of the presence and condition of any asbestos in your building), who is responsible for managing it, what work you have planned, a schedule to deliver it, and making sure the relevant people know about it.
Who needs a plan and who doesn’t?
You need an asbestos management plan if you are responsible for the maintenance of the building and any of these apply;
- Your building was built before 2000
- Your building is on a brownfield site
- You have equipment from before 2000, such as ovens, fire blankets or sound-proofing, this could still contain asbestos.
If you answered yes to any of these it means you have a ‘legal duty to manage asbestos’.
You do not need an asbestos management plan if your building:
- was built after 2000, is not on a brownfield site and doesn’t contain any equipment with asbestos was built before 2000, or
- is on a brownfield site, but you have proof that there is no asbestos whatsoever
- is a residential property with no shared common areas
Ok, so I need a plan, what do I need to do now?
It doesn’t mean you need to remove the asbestos and you don’t always need a specialist, but you do need to have a plan in place.
- You need to assess the asbestos in your building
- You need to write a plan to manage it
- And you need to put it into action.
Action is the key word here, simply writing a plan isn’t enough.
If you ignore it and don’t have a plan that you put into action, you could face a fine of up to £20,000 or up to two years imprisonment. Not to mention that you could be held responsible for causing serious damage to someone’s health.
How do I get an asbestos management plan?
Now you have two choices. You can either write a plan yourself, or get help from an asbestos surveyor. Your decision will probably depend on the size of your building, its age and condition. You’re very welcome to call us at TMS and we can advise on the best course of action.
If you do decide you want to do it yourself, there is a useful, step-by-step guide on the HSE website
Remember, you should never carry out any work that could affect asbestos without an approved or competent qualified contractor.
If you have any questions or would like us to help you write your asbestos management plan, please get in touch.