Vol. 1, Issue 39 (Mar 08) Don’t take risks with Asbestos

Many people are still needlessly being exposed to asbestos in the workplace.

Despite changes in requirements, many are still not heeding the warnings. The group of people who are most likely to be exposed to asbestos are: –

  • Maintenance workers.
  • IT and data installers.
  • Telecoms.
  • Builders.

The requirements are to be found within the “Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

You need to decide who is the responsible person. Be it the Landlord or yourself being under the control of a repair lease or facility function.

If the location was built after 2000 the risk is low from having the material in the facility. This must be established.

Decide what information you have available i.e. surveys or insurance inspections.

You may need some external competent advice to complete an assessment/survey.

Once identified you need to let people know what you have and where it is located-giving due regard to hidden areas-in risers, in cupboards, in plant rooms and above ceilings.

If you have damaged material you may have to do something-doing nothing is not the answer.

[Download the full article News Brief Vol. 1, Issue 39 (PDF)]

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Vol. 1, Issue 24 (Jun 04) Asbestos in the Workplace

We make no apologies for the second NEWS-BRIEF on asbestos in the workplace, The “Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002” is now implemented, in particular the requirements of regulation 4 of the statutory provision.

We have provided this brief on the regulations and urge you to consider the implications for you and your employees when they are working at your workplace that is under the control or under the control of your clients.

(1) Review where you area.

What do you know about the premises? Desk top exercise, review works completed over the years if possible –this may identify where the material has been removed or is located and sealed.

Dates to consider:-
1970 the use of blue almost stopped completely.
1985 spray coatings were legally banned.
1985 insulation board ceased.
1992 asbestos containing decorative plasters – artex.
1999 asbestos cement banned.
1999 the use if white asbestos was banned (with minor exceptions.

However, not just the fabric of the building. Some examples are hairdryers, old electrical fires, gas fires with effects, machinery, gaskets, friction pads, brakes, belts etc. electrical cable and switchgear.

(2) Do not work until a risk assessment has been completed.

A system to check before work is started.
What to do if discovered after works started.
Training for your staff and others

3) Complete an initial inspection

You do not need an expert, you must be able to recognise it, However treat it as asbestos until proven otherwise. If the material in good condition, it is not a problem, recognise that damage will release fibres. In high risk areas, or high fibre release or damage, lock the door or seal the area, take samples (if you can do so safely) arrange to repair, seal or remove. Licensed contractors may be required for the removal-seek advice if in doubt.

(4) Develop a strategy for compliance.

Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 does not automatically require you have a survey to identify asbestos.
Three options exist:-

  • One – if not asbestos record the fact, you have to be sure though.
  • Two – assume all material contain asbestos (except glass and brick). Record in management records.
  • Three – complete a comprehensive survey.

If a survey is to be completed the requirements of the document “MSDS 100” should be adopted, the survey should be completed by a person holding the qualification P402 Proficiency Certificate – Buildings Surveys and Bulk Sampling for Asbestos – issued by The British Occupational Hygiene Society, we would also recommend that you check their insurance.

(5) Assess and prioritise risk for remedial action.

Three stages should be considered:-

  • One, -material risk assessment, type and condition.
  • Two – priority assessments, damage and deterioration of material and of the persons disturbing the material or coming into contact etc.
  • Three – overall assessments to be recorded and made available, it should assist in priorities.

(6) Develop a long term plan.

This should include location and conditions. How it is to be recorded, with pictures and dates, plans and drawings, accessed by others including contractors.
Priorities for actions including risk rating.
In high risk areas review, restrict access, permit to works, enclosure, monitoring and review.

Define responsibilities, alter and update your health and safety policy statement.

What happens if the material is damaged or disturbed. You should consider emergency arrangements and clean-up after an event.

You may need to re-assure staff who may have been exposed.

All contractors who need to be informed, make sure you allow access to the records.

Supply and fix warning signs, stick-on ones are good, drilled and fixed may disturb the fibres therefore these should be avoided.

(7) Monitor and review.

Action plans should be adopted, monitoring the condition and locations, this is recommended as every six months.

Go and have a look and record what you see, if no change say no change.

Sampling the records for accuracy, checking for signs, have they been removed?

Monitoring awareness of staff, reviewing lessons learnt from asbestos related safety incidents.

Safe systems of working specifications for your own staff and employees.

Consider access to records for contractors and others who might disturb the asbestos materials,

Adopt suitable emergency plans and contingencies arrangements.


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Vol. 1, Issue 21 (Jun 03) Dangerous Substance

In response to the “European Week for Safety and Health” which begins on the 13th October 2003, we have dedicated this issue to “Dangerous Substances” in the workplace.

Dangerous substances can make you unwell if you breathe them in or they come into contact with your skin. The effects can range from mild impact to longer term impact and possibly cancers.

With the correct and suitable control and prevention measures most of the ill health effects can be reduced or eliminated.

The health issues are very well known, there is now a duty to manage asbestos in the workplace.

Skin disease.
Around 60,000 people are affected by conditions such as eczema and dermatitis, on the increase is skin cancer possibly linked to sun exposure without the use of sun screens.

There are up to 7,000 cases caused or made worse each year. From flour and grain, latex, some glues and resins, wood dust, solder / colophony. isocyanates. The “Health and Safety Commission” has set a target to reduce levels by 30% by 2010.

Handle with care.

Dangerous substances can be broken down into four groups:-

  • Chemicals used in manufacturing and their processing.
  • Propriety products used in work activities such as painting, gluing, dyeing and work-place cleaning.
  • Dust and fumes that occur during work such as welding, soldering and food preparation.
  • Natural substances- bacteria and blood.

They also can include substances that could cause harm from fire and explosions, from petrol, paints, solvents and liquefied petroleum gases.

How Substances Can Effect.

Lung damage from breathing: dusts, welding fumes, asbestos, fuel exhausts – diesel etc.

Effects on skin: allergic dermatitis i.e. epoxy resin, formaldehyde. Non allergic dermatitis: solvents, detergents and cutting oils.

Asthma from breathing: flour dusts, wood dusts.

Eye, nose and throat irritation: from substances in the air, diesel exhaust, acid vapours & mists and solvent vapours.

Effects within the body: brain nervous system from mercury, lead, pesticides, solvents, carbon monoxide gas.

Effects within the body: liver from vinyl chloride.

Effects within the body: bones from lead.

Effects within the body: blood and bone marrow from benzene.

Dermatitis and skin disease.

Occupational dermatitis is one of the most widespread causes of ill health, that affects workers in many industries.

Nationally, every year as estimated 60,000 people suffer from skin disease as a result of exposure at work.

Occupational dermatitis is caused by skin coming into contact (generally the exposure) with the substances at work.

Symptoms of the condition can be itching, scaling, blistering and redness of the skin.

The speed of the development depends on the strength of the substances and how long and how often it touches the skin. It can be extremely painful and can damage both work and social life.

Common causes are latex/rubber, soaps and cleaners, chromate and wet working.

Occupational Asthma.

The symptoms include chest tightness, wheezing & breathlessness. This is often due to inflamed airways, sufferers may experience runny nose, sneezing, itchy and inflamed red eyes.

Symptoms can occur immediately when exposed to substances or several hours after, when away from the place of exposure. If the condition improves at weekends and when on holiday and gets worse back at work, it is likely to be occupational asthma.

Systems should be in place to detect the symptoms. Symptoms should not be ignored – they will get worse the longer the exposure. It is a very debilitating condition and limits the sufferer to enjoy a normal life.

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Vol. 1, Issue 15 (Mar 02) Asbestos in the Workplace

We are all very aware that exposure to asbestos and asbestos containing products is potentially harmful to health.

Many people are at risk from exposure to asbestos. Anyone who uses the premises, who disturb the asbestos that has deteriorated or been damaged and is releasing fibres, can be at risk. In fact anyone whose work involves drilling, sawing or cutting into the fabric of premises could be potentially at risk. These individuals may all breathe in asbestos fibres during their day-to-day activities.

It is now thought possible that repeated low exposures, such as those works which could occur during routine repair work, may also lead to cancers. The new duty proposed under the changes in the asbestos regulations are likely to be and include the following:- Finding out where it is, its amount and what condition it is in. Presuming materials containing asbestos until proven otherwise.

Making and keeping up to date records on its location and its condition.

Assessing risks from the material. Preparing a plan that sets out details on how it is to be managed. Taking steps to put the plan into action.

Reviewing and monitoring the plan and the arrangements made.

Providing relevant information on the location and the condition of the material to anyone who is likely to disturb it.

Anyone with an interest in the property will have a duty to co-operate with employers to enable them to manage the risk

You are most likely to come across asbestos in these materials: –

  • Sprayed asbestos and asbestos loose packing-generally used in fire breaks in ceiling voids.
  • Moulded or preformed lagging -generally used in pipe insulation.
  • Sprayed asbestos – generally used as fire protection in ducts, firebreaks, panels, partitions, soffit boards, ceiling panels, structural steel work.
  • Insulating boards for used for fire protection, thermal insulation, ducts and partitioning.
  • Some ceiling tiles.
  • Millboard, paper and paper products used for insulation of electrical equipment. Asbestos paper has been used as fire-proof facing on wood
  • fibreboard.
  • Asbestos cement products which can be fully or semi-compressed into flat or corrugated sheets.
  • Corrugated sheets used as roof and wall cladding.
  • Certain textured coatings.
  • Bitumen roofing materials.
  • Vinyl or thermoplastic floor tiles.
  • Older style toilet cisterns.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive.
Asbestos has been used for many purposes.


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We can provide suitable training sessions either to management or operatives, using power point presentations, identifying where asbestos could be found and located, what to do if it is located, including working procedures.

Surveying, sampling and assessment of asbestos containing materials to MDHS 100.

Condition surveys and guidance on sealing or removal. Selection and control of contractors.

Audits, checks and inspection of the working areas, prior to and during operations.

Provide advice, guidance and information for compliance with the required ‘duty to manage’ asbestos in non-domestic premises.


Asbestos Material Assessment Algorithm (Microsoft Word .doc)


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