1. Understanding Your Duty to Manage Asbestos

Managing asbestos in buildings is a critical responsibility that impacts not only the safety of the building’s occupants but also complies with legal requirements. This section delves into who holds this duty, the scope of their responsibility, and the importance of this role in ensuring a safe environment.

Who is the Dutyholder?

  • Building Owners: Owners of non-domestic buildings have a primary responsibility for managing asbestos. They must ensure that a proper assessment of asbestos presence is conducted and that an effective management plan is in place.
  • Landlords: In rented premises, landlords may hold this responsibility, especially in multi-occupancy buildings where they manage ‘common parts’ like hallways and roofs.
  • Maintenance Managers: Individuals or organisations in charge of building maintenance are also considered dutyholders. This includes those who handle repairs, renovations, or oversee maintenance activities.

Responsibilities of the Dutyholder

  • Assessment of Asbestos Presence: One of the key responsibilities is to assess whether the building materials contain asbestos, especially in buildings constructed or refurbished before 2000.
  • Record Keeping: Maintaining a record or register of the location, condition, and quantity of any asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) is crucial. This record needs to be updated regularly and be accessible for reference.
  • Risk Assessment: Assessing the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres is a significant part of the dutyholder’s responsibilities. This involves considering the condition of ACMs and the likelihood of their disturbance.
  • Creating a Management Plan: Developing an asbestos management plan is a legal requirement. This plan should detail how the identified risks are managed and mitigated. It should also outline procedures for regular monitoring and reassessment.
  • Information Dissemination: It’s vital to communicate the presence and location of ACMs to anyone who might work on or disturb them, including maintenance staff and emergency services.

Legal Framework

  • The Control of Asbestos Regulations: This legal framework sets out the duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises. It stipulates the responsibilities of the duty holder to protect anyone using or working in the building from the risks of asbestos.
  • Compliance and Penalties: Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to significant legal consequences. Dutyholders are legally obliged to adhere to the prescribed guidelines to avoid penalties.

Importance of the Role

  • Health and Safety Implications: The primary importance of managing asbestos effectively is to prevent health risks associated with asbestos exposure, such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
  • Environmental Considerations: Proper management of asbestos is also crucial for environmental protection. Ensuring safe handling and disposal of asbestos materials prevents environmental contamination.