We all know that asbestos is a highly hazardous material which releases dangerous particles when disturbed. Yet, surprisingly, when it comes to asbestos removal, it’s not always carried out in the safest possible way, or by those with the right training to really know what they’re doing. Indeed, asbestos shouldn’t be moved at all unless absolutely necessary; it’s often safer left intact and undisturbed with an asbestos management plan in place and regular re-inspection surveys to assess its condition.
In fact, removing asbestos yourself without the right knowledge of how to do so safely can potentially cause more harm than simply leaving the material undisturbed. So read on if you’re wondering ‘Can I dispose of asbestos myself?’
What Does The Law Say About Who Can Remove Asbestos?
There are clear laws regarding who can legally remove asbestos.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), only a licensed contractor should dispose of higher-risk asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). These materials include:
- Sprayed asbestos coatings
- Asbestos insulation
- Asbestos lagging
- Most work with asbestos insulating board (AIB)
These sorts of higher-risk ACMs are clearly a lot more dangerous to work with, making licensed asbestos removal a hazardous undertaking. It requires specific training and needs to follow certain working practices, such as wearing high-end respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and undergoing frequent medical assessments.
The materials mentioned above are likelier to disperse asbestos materials in larger amounts on removal than their lower-risk counterparts (for example asbestos cement). And it’s because this work is so potentially dangerous that you need an HSE licence to do it legally.
For some asbestos removal tasks, where ACMs carry a lower risk, you don’t need an HSE asbestos removal licence by law. That’s because any exposure to asbestos fibres with this kind of job isn’t expected to be seriously dangerous, as long as you have the right precautionary measures in place.
However, some 10 years ago, new asbestos-related rules came into force, creating two categories of ‘non-licensed’ work. One of these, ‘notifiable non-licensed work’, or NNLW, brings with it extra requirements for employers. It means you will still need to notify the HSE using an ASBNN1W! form. And the HSE has a series of task sheets of the appropriate controls for this type of asbestos removal work. Finally, some ACMs, classed as low-fibre release on disturbance, can be removed without a licence.
So while it’s not just common sense (not to mention the safest option) to leave asbestos removal to the professionals, most of the time it’s also the law.
Disposing Of Asbestos Without Professional Help
Despite the requirement (in most cases) for a fully licensed contractor to carry out asbestos removal work, many council refuse services UK-wide will accept the substance and are able to dispose of it for you safely, effectively providing part of the asbestos removal service. However, you still need to take the stuff from the relevant property and transport it to a designated site. This can disturb the fibres further, potentially releasing more of them en route.
So really this remains a job for a qualified professional who can do it legally and is properly trained and qualified. A professional asbestos removal company will know how to remove and dispose of ACMs safely, limiting risk both in terms of the removal of the materials from the property, and transporting and finally disposing of them.
Some Other Reasons To Avoid Removing Asbestos Yourself
There are numerous reasons why it’s best to ask a professional specialist to do your asbestos removal:
- If you’re removing asbestos yourself, it’s pretty likely that particles will linger in the air, and remain in your home or business property. An asbestos removal company will get rid of it safely and completely, and in a way which doesn’t further disturb or release particles.
- Clearly, a professional asbestos company will have the right safety equipment and PPE to avoid harming themselves or anyone else.
- Those providing professional asbestos removal services will have had the correct training and necessary industry experience and knowledge to do a safe, smooth job.
- Using a professional, competent company providing specialist asbestos removal services gives you legal protection and therefore complete peace of mind. In accordance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2022, removing asbestos yourself could have significant legal repercussions.
- Not removing asbestos yourself means you’re not putting yourself or anyone else at any risk of exposure to this deadly material. Asbestos still causes nearly 5,000 avoidable deaths annually – and if you smoke, you’re especially vulnerable, so the health consequences can be devastating, with symptoms often occurring years or even decades later.
When Does Asbestos Need To Be Removed?
If you suspect the presence of ACMs, it is important to confirm this with an asbestos survey and any appropriate testing. In most cases, where it is detected, asbestos can generally be left where it is, as long as it is undisturbed, in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed or damaged in the future. Equally, it can often be encapsulated so that dangerous fibres are not released.
Should the presence of ACMs be confirmed, you should have an appropriate asbestos management plan in place so that the materials remain undisturbed and in good condition. Indeed, this is your legal duty under the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012 if you are a landlord or run a commercial or public building.
However, if the ACMs have already been disturbed or are not in a great condition, or if building and demolition work is to be carried out on-site, asbestos removal is required and if it is a demolition or refurbishment project, this will need to be done before the work can be completed. A specialist providing asbestos removal services or other suitably qualified professionals can do this safely.
Looking For a Professional Asbestos Removal Company?
In summary, if you were wondering ‘Can I dispose of asbestos myself?’, the answer is very much a resounding no, even though thousands of people try it each year. It’s never worth taking any chances with asbestos. Call in the help of professional, fully qualified asbestos removal services.
At Crucial Environmental Ltd, we’re a specialist, UKAS-accredited asbestos removal company, offering a complete service including asbestos surveys, testing and sampling and all types of asbestos removal, from garage roofs to Artex ceilings. We work in compliance with HSE legislation and provide all relevant certifications and paperwork. Talk to us today.