Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance that can be dangerous to human health. It was previously used extensively in construction until it was banned outright from use in the UK in 1999. As a great deal of asbestos remains in properties, businesses have legal obligations to protect staff and anyone else who uses the company’s premises from exposure to asbestos.
Here we take a closer look at the legal obligations of businesses with regards to asbestos on their premises.
Businesses’ legal duties regarding asbestos
The legal obligations of businesses with regards to asbestos are governed by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. This functionally states that anyone who is responsible for the maintenance or management of business premises has a ‘duty of care’ to manage the asbestos in order to protect anyone working in or using the building.
Ultimately, this means that the duty holder – usually the owner of the building, or the person who has been made responsible – must establish whether asbestos is present in the building and understand its condition. From there you can create a plan to manage the asbestos effectively, helping to make the asbestos risk as low as possible for anyone entering the premises.
What your business needs to do
The first thing that any building owner or manager needs to do is have an asbestos survey carried out. Asbestos surveys are conducted by professionals who can assess whether or not the material is present. This typically includes safely taking samples of potential asbestos or asbestos-containing materials.
This testing provides information on the asbestos, which is relayed to you via the report provided at the end of the survey. From the information and recommendations in the survey report, you can create an asbestos management plan. This might include anything from simply making a note of the location of the asbestos and periodically having it checked to ensure its condition hasn’t deteriorated, or having the asbestos removed entirely.
Could an employee make a personal injury claim relating to asbestos?
In simple terms, if your business has a duty of care to protect employees against asbestos exposure and you have failed to do so, those employees may be able to make a claim against you. Of course, it is worth pointing out that it takes a very long time for asbestos to damage the body, and the effects of asbestos exposure may not be noticed for 20 years or more.
However, this does not mean that the business is not longer responsible. In fact, even businesses that have ceased trading can be held liable – and this will come down again to the person who held the duty of care.
As such it is imperative that you do everything you can to minimise the risk of asbestos exposure. Failing to do so could not only drastically affect the health of those coming into contact with the substance, but it can also have enormous financial ramifications for you.
Protecting your staff against exposure
It is important to take all possible precautionary steps to minimise risk. Having an asbestos survey carried out is the first step, but it is vital to follow it up by actually having an asbestos management plan created, and then following the recommendations and advice of asbestos professionals.
There are many specific rules around minimising asbestos risk, so you should be sure that you are doing everything legally.
If you are interested in having an asbestos survey carried out at your business premises, or in getting an asbestos management plan created, please contact the team at Crucial Environmental today. Our team of asbestos specialists can provide you with information and assistance, and get an asbestos survey booked in for you.