Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR) (or in Northern Ireland, Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2007, as amended), requires employers and some landlords to be aware of any asbestos in their properties and to manage it in such a way as not to put anyone at risk.
Asbestos dust can cause fatal diseases even when someone is exposed only to minute quantities. The more dust you are exposed to the more likely you are to become ill.
Asbestos was used in many building products including wall panelling, fireproofing, ducting covers, pipework etc., and in some unusual places such as in thermoplastic floor tiles and decorative wall coverings (Artex, etc.). Millions of tons were used. The location and condition of most of it are not known. Buildings built in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s are likely to contain large quantities of asbestos. Asbestos can only be properly identified by specialist techniques.
Most at risk are those who maintain or demolish buildings such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and decorators, but also included are caretakers and odd-job staff, anyone who is likely to cut, drill, smash or disturb asbestos and create dust in any way. People in the vicinity of such work can also be affected (office workers when an office is being rewired for telephones or computers, tenants when plumbing repairs are being done in service ducts on their property).
The English, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh legislation are the same and is discussed below.Defines who is a "dutyholder", i.e. who is legally responsible under this regulation. This includes everyone who has any obligation, either by being the landlord or by a contractual arrangement, for maintaining or repairing non-domestic premises. Where there is no contract or tenancy the person in control of non-domestic premises is the dutyholder. Shared arrangements are defined. The guidance says where a change in ownership or tenancy occurs relevant information about the presence of asbestos should be passed on. Everyone is required to co-operate with the dutyholder. The guidance identifies architects, surveyors, building contractors, etc. here. The dutyholder must carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of whether asbestos is present in any premises. In making the assessment such steps as are reasonable in the circumstances shall be taken and the condition of any asbestos present shall be considered The dutyholder shall also:
Where the assessment shows that asbestos is present or liable to be present the dutyholder shall:
The Approved Code of Practice and guidance: The management of asbestos in non-domestic premises (ACoP) states no one must work on asbestos-containing materials unless the requirements of the Asbestos Regulations are complied with. The guidance says as a minimum the condition of the material should be checked every 6-12 months even if it is in good condition and not likely to be disturbed. The guidance suggests the labelling of all asbestos as one way of alerting people.The dutyholder must:
There is other legislation, notably the Defective Premises Act 1972 (not applicable in Scotland) (or Defective Premises (Northern Ireland) Order 1975 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990, that may be useful in circumstances not covered by the new regulations where asbestos is present in buildings, particularly rented domestic accommodation.
Where there are trade union safety reps at a workplace the employer is legally bound to consult with them in good time on the planning and implementation of systems to meet the requirements of this or any other regulation (Regulation 4A, Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations 1977).