Asbestos Safety Survey reveals lack of Awareness


The arrival of the new Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012, which came into force this month, highlights the need for widespread awareness of the rules surrounding this dangerous material.

Many businesses do have written asbestos management procedures but a new survey demonstrates that significant gaps remain in managers’ awareness of their legal obligations. Information and training are clearly required in many cases.

AIB Initiative

The Asbestos Inspection Bodies (AIB) carried out a “Great British Asbestos Survey” last year and over a 6-month data-gathering period it involved 620 respondents who are in charge of buildings that contain asbestos, or they carry out repairs and maintenance on such buildings. These are not asbestos industry people as such but those who have to deal with it from time to time. The 6 groups that are identified primarily include employers who dispatch staff to maintain and repair buildings: building users: and those who carry out repairs.

Asbestos Training needs

On average across the 6 groups, 31.7% of respondents were not aware of their duty to manage asbestos, while 68.3% did know about the fact that they must carry out asbestos assessments for its possible presence, and if it is there, write a Plan stating their risk management intentions.  Given that this has been a legal requirement since 2004, it is worrying that nearly a third did not know about it.

It was worse among repair and maintenance contractors. Some 40% of commercial premises contractors said they did not know of their duty to manage asbestos, rising to 60% of residential contractors: and 25% of the total had not received asbestos awareness training.

The survey also found that all duty holders claimed they provided asbestos information to visiting contractors, but only 60% of those visiting commercial buildings say they actually received this information. Meanwhile 82.8% of contracting companies said they requested this data from clients.

Just over a third (34.7%) of contractors visiting commercial sites say they have disturbed asbestos during their routine work, while 39.5% say they have never disturbed the material and 25.8% don’t even know.

The outcome of this survey is surely that, 8 years after the legislation required it, there is still a worryingly high level of ignorance of what to do about asbestos and how to handle it. This is an issue that particularly affects construction safety.

Need for Expertise

Three-quarters of those respondents who commissioned asbestos surveys had used UKAS-accredited organisations to carry out the work, (as recommended by HSE): a quarter had not used health and safety consultants accredited to do such work.

McCormack Benson Health & Safety only use UKAS-accredited laboratories for all their analyses. All their surveyors hold the P402 Certificate of Competence in Asbestos (CCP) and have a minimum of 5 years’ industry experience. Surveys are conducted in accordance with HSG 264, incorporating the advice and guidance within ACOP L127.  This means that you are always in good hands. The complexities of being compliant with the regulations surrounding asbestos require nothing less.