If you own a businesses with premises or are responsible for any kind of commercial office, you have a duty to manage any asbestos on the property and ensure that the risk of exposure for the people working in them is minimal.

If you work in an office it is reasonable to assume that you should not be at risk of exposure to asbestos while you carrying out your duties. So it might surprise many people to learn that their workplace may very well contain asbestos. However, if you are worried about the material damaging your health this is likely because of a misunderstanding of asbestos and the danger it presents.

Here we look at asbestos in offices and what employers and building owners need to do in order to protect their staff.

Should you be worried about asbestos?

It can be surprising for people to learn that they are working in close proximity to asbestos, but the truth is that it was such a common building material for such a long time that many industrial and commercial properties across Britain still contain it.

Thankfully, as per government regulations, every building or business owner that has asbestos on their premises has a duty of care to their staff to ensure that they are not at risk of exposure to it. This means that they must have a plan in place to manage the substance – although not necessarily remove it.

Generally it is not dangerous for asbestos to be in a working environment as long as the material is not likely to be disturbed and is in good condition. However, you may need to be concerned about asbestos under specific circumstances.

Are you renovating your office?

If you are going to be renovating your office it may be the case that you are likely to disturb the asbestos as you work. This would be extremely hazardous, as the fibres that would be released by the work would pose a serious risk to health for a significant time. It is important to have an office strip out survey carried out before you begin any renovation works.