Asbestos Analytical Services

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An Introduction to Asbestos

Asbestos takes the form of naturally occurring silicate minerals. Asbestos fibres enter the body through inhalation, nose or mouth, after which they can enter the lungs and cause damage to the respiratory system. Exposure to asbestos fibres can lead to three fatal diseases, these are:

  • Asbestosis – scarring of the lungs leading to shortness of breath.
  • Lung Cancer.
  • Mesothelioma – cancer of the lining around the lungs and stomach.

There are around 3000-4000 asbestos related deaths a year in the UK many of which are, but not restricted to, people working in the building and maintenance trades.

These diseases can take ten - twenty years or more to develop; so ill effects are not instantly recognisable with any sudden change to your health.

Asbestos can be found in the construction of commercial and non-commercial properties. Below is a list of the most common uses, though this does not completely cover the variety of uses asbestos was put to.

  • Sprayed insulation, or limpit on steelwork.
  • Thermal insulation and lagging in boiler rooms or pipework.
  • Asbestos insulating board (AIB) in wall boards, ceiling tiles, fire breaks and doors and fascia’s and soffit’s.
  • Other materials in which asbestos was commonly used are, textured or decorative coatings (artex), floor tiles, mastic or bitumen products, gaskets, ropes and textiles.

Legal Considerations

Control of asbestos regulations (CAR) 2012.

The ‘duty holder’ is the person with the responsibility for maintenance and repair for the premises, through contract or tenancy or where there is no contract or tenancy, then the duty falls to the person, or persons, in control of the premises.

Regulation 4 of Control of asbestos regulations 2012, requires the duty holder of all non-domestic properties "shall ensure that a suitable and sufficient assessment is carried out as to whether asbestos is, or is liable to be present in the premises" and "that the conclusions of the assessment and every review are recorded".

The duty holder is responsible for assessing whether a property contains asbestos, assessing the risk from the asbestos and managing that risk from the asbestos.

The aim of these regulations is to protect employees and other users of the premises from the risk of exposure to asbestos.

The regulations require that since May 2004 every non-domestic property requires an asbestos management plan.

Implicit requirements can be found contained within the legislation and guidance documents listed below:

  • Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
  • The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
  • Approved Code of Practice L143 Work with materials containing asbestos.
  • Approved Code of Practice L127 The management of asbestos in non-domestic premises.
  • HSE’s HSG 264 ‘The Survey Guide’.
  • The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007.
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