As the owner, manager or occupier of a shop, office, factory, restaurant or any other type of commercial premises then under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 there is a legal duty to manage the presence of asbestos. This regulation also applies to communal areas of some domestic premises, such as blocks of flats or care homes, so you need to be aware of the rules regarding asbestos. The danger to health of disturbed asbestos is very serious, and if you fail to manage the substance, you can be fined or even prosecuted. So read on to find out what you must do to meet your legal obligations.
Who is the Duty Holder?
The duty holder is normally defined as the individual who has the most overall control and responsibility for the repair and maintenance of a building. If you are a commercial tenant, for example, this should be specified in your contract. Sometimes responsibility for maintenance and repair is shared, or is unclear. If this is the case, then you should discuss the duty to manage asbestos with the owner, and decide between you who will carry out the role.
Duty Holder Responsibilities
To ensure that no one is harmed by the presence of asbestos in a building, the dutyholder is responsible for the following:
- Finding out if asbestos on the premises exists
- Assessing the condition of the asbestos
- Making and keep an up-to-date record of where the asbestos or materials containing asbestos are
- Assessing risk
- Preparing a plan detailing the management of asbestos risk
- Informing contractors/builders of the presence of asbestos
So you must first find out if asbestos exists, and if so, assess the risk and then make a plan to manage it. The findings need to be recorded in an asbestos risk register. It is advisable to keep paper copies of the risk register rather than electronic ones, as these can be more easily given to anyone who is carrying out building or refurbishment work on the premises. If any of your staff or employees are likely to be exposed to asbestos when at work, then suitable training must also be given to manage the risk.
It’s always wise to have an asbestos survey carried out by professional asbestos surveyor’s such as http://www.artisansurveyors.co.uk/ to properly identify any asbestos on the premises and safely manage it. An asbestos surveyor is able to clearly identify asbestos, as well as analyse samples to determine what kind of risk the asbestos presents. Their findings will all be contained in a report which can be recorded in your risk register, and will help you set out a management plan. This covers your responsibility as the duty holder.
Remember that as asbestos is such a hazardous material, then removal of the substance must also be handled safely. If asbestos is found, an asbestos surveyor may also be licenced to safely remove it or refer you to a licenced asbestos waste removal and disposal contractor.
Wendy Lin is an entrepreneur and teacher. She retired from teaching to pursue her own business. She is the CEO of 2 businesses and recently moved to the UK from LA.