You are probably already aware of the dangers of asbestos. This substance, widely used in construction until it was banned in 1999, claims the lives of thousands of people every year. But you might not be aware of what your legal responsibilities are when it comes to keeping other people safe from exposure to asbestos. Whether you are a homeowner or the manager of commercial property it is vital that you know what is expected of you.
If you own a building that is used for commercial or industrial purposes, or you manage a building for a business, there are a number of legal responsibilities set down by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The key factor is that owners and occupiers of commercial premises are deemed to have a ‘duty of care’ to maintain and manage asbestos at the property.
It is considered to be your responsibility to minimise the risk of staff, contractors or members of the public coming into contact with asbestos. Ultimately this means that you need to have a management plan for how to deal with any asbestos or asbestos-containing materials at your site. The first step in having this management plan created is to have an asbestos survey carried out by professionals.
A survey will examine any potential asbestos on your premises, establishing the condition of the material and then providing you with a report on their condition. Your survey will also provide advice and guidance on what you should do with the asbestos.
While the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 has very specific laws for businesses, asbestos at home is not governed by strict rules. In domestic properties, owners are not generally responsible for risks to contractors – it is up to the contractors to ensure they are not exposed to asbestos.
There are rules to ensure that homeowners are protected from risks while they are having work carried out on their home, and these are usually covered by the need for a ‘duty of care’ as mentioned above.