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​​​What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material which was added to common building products most extensively from the 1950s until the 1980s. The properties of asbestos include good insulation, fireproofing and increasing the strength & durability of a product. Although there are six types of asbestos fibre, generally three types were used commercially; these were chrysotile (white), amosite (brown) and crocidolite (blue). Asbestos was banned from use in buildings in 1999 but still remains widespread in public and private sector buildings built and refurbished before this date. 

Where Can I Find Asbestos? 
Due to these properties, asbestos was added to a large number of products including floor tiles, garage roofs, drain pipes, pipe insulation, decorative coatings (e.g. artex), pipe boxing and toilet cisterns. 
More information on the location of asbestos in buildings can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website.

Asbestos in Properties
Asbestos in the workplace is subject to legal requirements under The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Anybody responsible for access, egress, maintenance and repair within a building has a legal duty to manage asbestos within that building. The HSE have provided guidance for people who own, manage or have responsibilities for buildings which may contain asbestos.

Electricians, plumbers, joiners, other maintenance workers, and shop fitters are particularly at risk from exposure to asbestos and precautionary measures must be taken by contractors and building owners to identify whether a material or structure contains asbestos before work commences. 

How Do I Find Out If My Building Contains Asbestos?
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 requires building managers (dutyholders) to ensure that a suitable and sufficient assessment is carried out as to whether asbestos is or is liable to be present. This may involve arranging for an asbestos survey. Please refer to HSG 264 Asbestos: The Survey Guide for further information.

In non-domestic premises, the findings of an asbestos inspection must be incorporated into an asbestos management plan to manage the risks from asbestos. ​


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