We are all aware of the health problems associated with asbestos, a material used widely in building materials. It is illegal to use asbestos in the construction or refurbishment of buildings, but there are duties imposed by law on those who have control over non-domestic buildings (such as freehold owners, landlords, tenants, managing agents) where existing asbestos may be present.
There has been for some time legislation in place that protects workers from the risks to exposure from asbestos. However, it was decided in early 2011 that the UK had not fully implemented the European Directive as it allowed too many types of lower risk work with asbestos to be exempt from certain duties. The government has therefore issued a single set of consolidated asbestos regulations, The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, and they came into effect on 6 April this year.
The amendments mean that those carrying out certain types of low risk, short duration work will now need to notify the work to the relevant enforcing authority, carry out medical examinations on workers and maintain a register for each worker of the nature and duration of the work they have undertaken with asbestos. However, the licensing requirements have not been extended to these types of low risk, short duration work, so it will be notifiable but not licensable.
So anyone with obligations under contracts or tenancies to maintain and repair, or those with control over non-domestic premises, need to ensure that they comply with these new, more restrictive regulations.
Guidance will be published on the HSE’s website when the regulations come into force.