Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral once extensively used in construction, poses a significant health risk when its fibres become airborne and are inhaled. While the use of asbestos has been banned in the UK since 1999, it can still be found in many older structures, including farms. In this article, Crucial Environmental Ltd sheds light on the importance of managing asbestos on farms and offers valuable guidance for ensuring the safety of all those who work in these environments.
Understanding Asbestos on Farms
Farms, like many other older buildings, may contain asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). These materials could include compressed asbestos-cement roof sheets, cladding, building partitions, rainwater gutters, and downpipes. To ensure the safety of everyone on the farm, it’s essential to assess the presence and condition of any ACMs.
The Legal Framework:
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 places a legal responsibility on farm owners and tenants to manage asbestos risks effectively. While not obligatory, it is strongly recommended to arrange a survey conducted by a specialist company, unless you are certain that there are no ACMs on your premises. Factors such as single-layer steel or non-asbestos fibre-cement sheets on a steel or concrete frame, with no internal cladding or partitions, might indicate the absence of ACMs.
Creating an Asbestos Management Plan:
The survey’s findings and subsequent action list will form the basis of an asbestos management plan. Suspected materials may be presumed to contain ACMs without further analysis. It’s important to note that well-sealed, undamaged asbestos is often best left untouched, but any damaged ACMs should be considered for removal. If there is any uncertainty, it is advisable to seek expert assistance.
Working with ACMs:
Work involving asbestos insulation, asbestos board, or sprayed coatings (such as limpet asbestos) must only be conducted by specialist licensed contractors. Anyone who might encounter ACMs should receive awareness training and instruction. For those who are expected to work with or disturb ACMs, a more detailed competence in the tasks involved is necessary. Refresher training should be provided as needed, with annual refresher training being a recommended guideline.
It is crucial to inform everyone working on the farm, especially contractors, about the presence of asbestos and the potential existence of previously unidentified ACMs. Appropriate measures should be taken to safeguard their health. Furthermore, areas where ACMs have been identified must be labelled to prevent accidental exposure.
Asbestos management on farms is a critical aspect of ensuring the health and safety of all individuals working in these environments. While asbestos can be a hidden danger, proactive steps, including surveys and proper training, can go a long way in mitigating the risks associated with ACMs. Farm owners and tenants should take these responsibilities seriously, working to protect the well-being of all involved. Crucial Environmental Ltd stands ready to assist with professional asbestos surveys and management, helping to create safer working environments on farms in the East Midlands and beyond.