Asbestos Risk Assessments

 

Before we start to talk about these risk assessments it would be worth knowing a little history and the problems that Asbestos causes.

Asbestos was extensively used as a building material in the UK from the 1950s through to the mid-1980s. It was used for a variety of purposes including fireproofing and insulation. There is a chance that buildings built before 2000 (houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals etc) may well contain asbestos. Asbestos materials in good condition are safe, unless asbestos fibres become airborne, this happens when material become damaged by accident or by a tradesman potentially drilling or breaking without realising the potential problems.

When these fibres are inhaled they cause serious diseases which are responsible for around 4500 deaths a year. There are four main diseases caused by asbestos: mesothelioma (which is always fatal), lung cancer (almost always fatal), asbestosis (not always fatal, but it can be very debilitating) and diffuse pleural thickening (not fatal).

Asbestos fibres are present across the environment in Great Britain so people are exposed to very low levels of fibres. However, a key factor in the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease is the total number of fibres that are inhaled. Working on or near damaged asbestos containing materials, or, breathing in high levels of asbestos fibres, which may be many hundreds of times that of environmental levels will increase your chances of getting an asbestos-related disease.

Asbestos related diseases won’t affect you immediately but later on in life, so there is a need for you to protect yourself now to prevent you contracting an asbestos-related disease in the future. It is also important to remember that people who smoke and are also exposed to asbestos fibres are at a much greater risk of developing lung cancer

Did you know that every week on average 20 tradesmen die from exposure to asbestos including…

4 plumbers
6 electricians
8 joiners

Ceiling Tiles

Asbestos Ceiling Tiles

Pieces of AIB

Pieces of AIB

floor tiles

Floor Tiles can contain Asbestos

…all from this hidden killer.     Some pictures of this hidden killer it can be found in ceiling tiles and even floor tiles.

Click here to use the HSE asbestovision binoculars      

The latest figures for diseases associated with occupational exposure to asbestos many years ago, are summarised in the following table.

Deaths from mesothelioma (Mesothelioma register 2011)2 291
Estimated asbestos related lung cancer deaths (2011)2 000*
Deaths from asbestosis without mention of mesothelioma (Asbestosis register 2011)429
Newly assessed cases of asbestosis (IIDB 2012)980
Newly assessed cases of diffuse pleural thickening (IIDB 2012)460
Estimated number of cases of non malignant pleural disease reported to specialist physicians (THOR/SWORD 2012)686

*This figure has been rounded because it is an estimate rather than the number of actual deaths.

What is an Asbestos Risk Assessment?

The risk assessment is an assessment of the building, we carry out sample testing on key areas within a building to establish the potential risks associated within the building.

This type of survey is a mangement survey and should contain:

To help manage asbestos in your premises.
■ To provide accurate information on the location, amount and condition of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
■ To assess the level of damage or deterioration in the ACMs and whether remedial action is required.
■ To use the survey information to prepare a record of the location of any asbestos, commonly called an asbestos register,* and an asbestos plan of the building(s).
■ To help identify all the ACMs to be removed before refurbishment work or demolition.
*Note: the information in the register should be used to inform the risk assessment (eg consider who could disturb asbestos on your premises), and to establish the management plan to prevent such a disturbance.

Be aware that the survey is essential for the client/dutyholder to successfully manage asbestos.
■ All asbestos should be located as far as reasonably practicable within the survey type.
■ Ensure that the appropriate survey is undertaken for the client’s needs.
■ Avoid caveats.
■ Ensure the survey is reported in a format that can be used to prepare an asbestos register and building plan.
■ Inform the client that the survey is not the end point in managing asbestos.

The requirements are placed on ‘dutyholders’, who should:

■ Take reasonable steps to determine the location of materials likely to contain asbestos.

■ Presume materials to contain asbestos, unless there are good reasons not to do so.

■ Make and maintain a written record of the location of the ACMs and presumed ACMs.

■ Assess and monitor the condition of ACMs and presumed ACMs.

■ Assess the risk of exposure from ACMs and presumed ACMs and prepare a written plan of the actions and measures necessary to manage the risk (ie the ‘management plan’).

■ Take steps to see that these actions are carried out.

Need any other help or advice please feel free to complete the inquiry form or call us.