Asbestos is a potentially lethal substance which was once used extensively in premises as an insulator and building material. Although this practice is now illegal there are still large amounts of asbestos still in place in offices and workplaces. Facility managers who are responsible for the maintenance of buildings have legal duties concerning asbestos risk management. Here are some Dos and Don’ts to bear in mind:

  1. Do read the HSE leaflet (HDSG227) “A comprehensive guide to managing asbestos in premises” to understand your duties and responsibilities
  2. Do find out if you have any asbestos, where it is and what condition it is in and keep accurate records. Examine plans, inspect the building and seek information from architects, builders etc.
  3. Don’t panic if you find asbestos in your building. Undisturbed asbestos in good condition presents no risk.
  4. Do presume that suspect materials contain asbestos until proven otherwise. A suitably trained and insured surveyor may be able to tell by inspection or may take samples for analysis.
  5. Don’t allow anyone to take risks with suspect materials by drilling, sawing or otherwise disturbing them.
  6. Do assess the risk. This will reflect the condition, location and possibility of disturbance. From this you should prepare a risk management plan, follow it carefully and review it as necessary.
  7. Do ensure that anyone who might work on or disturb the materials knows where and what they are and understands the right procedures and the risks.
  8. Do ensure that building workers and contractors know when they need to call in an HSE licensed specialist contractor
  9. Don’t alarm everyone in the building. Your actions are keeping them safe. Keep Safety representatives, Human Resource people and other stakeholders fully informed.
  10. Don’t worry, you are not alone! There are a host of public bodies and professionals to help you. Asbestos is being safely removed or managed all the time. By developing and managing a good Asbestos plan you will prevent the risk of asbestos related disease for those who use your building.