Asbestos dust can cause fatal diseases even when that person hasn't been exposed to it very much. The more dust you're exposed to, the more likely you are to become ill.
You must manage any asbestos in your workplace so that no one is put at risk.
What law applies?
Asbestos was used in many building products, including wall panelling, fireproofing, ducting covers and pipe work, and in some unusual places such as in thermoplastic floor tiles and decorative wall coverings (e.g. Artex).
The location and condition of most of it aren't known. Buildings built in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s are likely to contain large quantities of asbestos. Only specialist techniques can properly identify asbestos.
Most at risk are those who maintain or demolish buildings such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters and decorators — namely anyone who is likely to cut, drill, smash or disturb asbestos and create dust.
People near these kinds of work can also be affected (e.g. office employees when an office is being rewired for telephones or computers, or tenants when plumbing repairs are being done in service ducts on their property).
The duty holder is generally the landlord of the property or the person (such as a tenant or employer) who has a contractual obligation (such as in a lease or tenancy agreement) to maintain or repair the property. If there is no contract or tenancy, the duty holder will be the person in control of the non-domestic premises.
The law requires certain duty holders to:
If you have asbestos-containing materials in the workplace, you must check the condition of the material every 6–12 months. You must carry out checks even if the material is in good condition and it's not likely to be disturbed. You should also label all asbestos as one way of alerting people. These are legal requirements, and no one can work with asbestos-containing material unless you comply with the rules.
To manage asbestos, you should carry out the following:
Your legal duty is to manage any asbestos in a building, not to remove it. The regulations aim to protect employees and others from asbestos fibres. You shouldn't try to remove any asbestos that is in good condition and is unlikely to be disturbed.
The following may be useful in circumstances not covered by the new regulations where asbestos is present in buildings, particularly rented domestic accommodation:
See the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) guidance on(PDF).