‘Asbestos’ is not a welcome word for those who own or manage property, and it can often provoke fear and panic.  Asbestos is of course dangerous, but if it is safely and effectively managed there is little need for any panic or major concern.

It is therefore so important that Landlords and Property Managers know their duties when it comes to Asbestos, and we are here to assist with that!

So, what is Asbestos and are there different types?

There are three main types of Asbestos used in construction: ‘blue Asbestos’ (Crocidolite), ‘brown Asbestos’ (Amosite) and ‘white asbestos’ (Chrysotile).

Chrysotile (white) Asbestos is the most commonly found – and the latest to be banned!

Until it was finally banned in 1999, it was common-place for Asbestos to be used in the building and construction industry due to its exceptional physical and chemical properties and its resistance to burning, chemicals, and electrics. It was actually regularly used in buildings for fire proofing, electrical insulation, sound insulation, and flooring and roofing products.

A black and white image of a large older tower block of flats

Why is Asbestos so dangerous?

One of the most dangerous aspects of Asbestos is that it is a friable material; meaning it can easily crumble. When this happens, the deadly fibres are released and become airborne and if breathed in, they can cause Asbestos related illnesses such as Mesothelioma and Asbestosis.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lining of some of the body’s organs, and is almost exclusively related to Asbestos exposure. Over 2,500 people are diagnosed with Mesothelioma each year and although it is possible to undergo treatment such as chemotherapy or surgery, the outcome is usually fatal. Other illnesses include Asbestosis and Asbestos-related Lung Cancer, which are also usually fatal.

What is the ‘Duty to Manage’?

Regulation 4 of The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 relates to the Duty to Manage Asbestos in non-domestic premises. The duty outlines that if you own, occupy, manage or have responsibility for a building that may contain Asbestos, then you are legally obliged to assess and manage the risk. You will also need to make decisions regarding the retention, remediation and removals of any Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs); with the assistance of the Asbestos Management Survey.

In most cases, Asbestos doesn’t cause danger unless it is disturbed or damaged, therefore, does not necessarily need to be removed (you can find out more about this here). The Asbestos Management Survey will often help to advise on the best steps to take, and why.

A view of 2 tall blocks of flats and other properties

I manage a building built before the year 2000, what should I do?

Although the Duty refers to non-domestic premises, those responsible for residential property also have a duty to managing the risk from Asbestos in the communal areas of residential property; for example: corridors, stairways, door entrances, lifts, parking areas, and bin stores in a block of flats.

If you are a landlord or Property Manager and are unsure if a property contains Asbestos, or know that it likely does, then you will need to have an Asbestos Management Survey carried out, to collect and analyse samples and confirm whether asbestos is present or not.

An Asbestos Survey will help to establish whether an ACM is friable or non-friable and determine whether or not the ACM will need to be removed from the premises. In most cases, it is often safer to leave the ACMs and review their condition over time, with annual Asbestos Re-inspection Surveys.

If you would like further advice in regards to Asbestos, or require a quotation for a survey, please get in touch with our friendly team today.

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