Asbestos Regulations

There are now more deaths in the UK from asbestos related disease than there are from car accidents. It is expected to peak around 2015.Source: Health & Safety Executive.

We don’t like to sound officious, but as asbestos is controlled by strict legislation, we have included a few “official” bits to help you understand the regulations and the reasons for their introduction.

Prior to the introduction of asbestos regulations in 2002 (amended in 2012), there was already a responsibility under existing legislation which required employers to identify and manage asbestos in the workplace.

In the early part of 2003, the Control of Asbestos at Work Act was further amended to specifically require employers and building owners to:

  • Identify the presence of asbestos in buildings
  • Identify all elements of its condition that impact on its potential to cause harm
  • Assess the risk that is presented
  • Take action to safely manage the risk


As early as 1974, The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act  already required employers to provide a safe workplace.

Work with Asbestos is covered by its own set of regulations. From November 2002 the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations (CAWR) 2002 came into force.

There are duties to prepare a risk assessment and to make written arrangements to protect those at risk in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and CDM Regulations which were updated in 2007.

Arrangements to deal with asbestos during refurbishment may also be required by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994.

The CAWR have been amended and renamed the Control of Asbestos Regualtions (CAR) 2012 and introduce a specific duty to manage the risk from asbestos containing materials in premises.

This specific duty will be supported by an Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and associated guidance.

It is the responsibility of the Duty Holder of commercial premises to manage any asbestos present and hold relative information in an Asbestos Register.

Therefore, it is recommended that a survey for Asbestos Containing Materials is undertaken to identify any present and a management strategy put in place thereafter.

The Health and Safety Commission estimate 1.5 million properties require an asbestos survey in order to comply with the new regulations.

All buildings (excluding private residential and private rented residential properties) require a register of asbestos containing materials detailing the location, extent and condition of the materials within the building.

The person responsible for a building (The Duty Holder) is required to manage the risk from asbestos by:

  • Identifying asbestos containing materials within the premises and assessing their condition.
  • Presuming materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not.
  • Maintaining an up to date record of the location and condition of the asbestos containing materials and presumed asbestos containing materials within the premises.
  • Assessing the risk from the material.
  • Preparing and implementing a plan detailing how the risk from asbestos containing materials is to be managed.
  • Reviewing and monitoring the management plan.
  • Providing information on the location and condition of asbestos containing materials to anyone liable to work on or disturb them.

Any building likely to contain asbestos containing materials must be surveyed under the new regulations.

Buildings constructed before 1999 may contain limited asbestos products and buildings built before 1985 may contain substantial quantities of asbestos.

The survey must be recorded as a written register of asbestos containing materials.

The risk that these materials pose to users of the building must be assessed and any recommendations made by the surveyor from these risk assessments, must be completed.

If you own, occupy, manage or have responsibility for a building which may contain asbestos you have either a legal duty to manage the risk from asbestos containing materials; or a duty to co-operate with whoever manages that risk.

The HSE has produced a number of free information packs to promote awareness of the new regulations.

Asbestos – Magic Material or Killer Dust?

Asbestos has been used extensively in the building industry for over one hundred years and has proved to be an excellent product for a variety of uses, having many qualities such as insulation, fire and chemical resistance to name a few.

Also, its suitability to many uses and relatively cheap cost made it very popular, with millions of tons being used in countless forms.

It was during the post war period of the 1950′s to the 1970′s when its usage was the most prevalent and it must be said that it provided a very economic, easy to use material that was welcome to the construction industry at that time.

Unfortunately, its constitution and make up with other materials give rise to airborne fibres that would be released if damaged. These fibres can get lodged in the lungs of people and cause numerous diseases and death.

Thus over the years asbestos use has receded and its use in buildings eventually banned in 1999 although it is used in some gasket production.

Despite its ban, millions of tons of it are still present in properties all over the country, in many different shapes and forms.

Many asbestos containing materials are easily damaged and can release the deadly airborne fibres into the atmosphere.

New regulations have been issued making it a legal requirement to manage all asbestos containing materials in commercial premises to protect those that work or visit there as it only takes one fibre to kill.

It is therefore necessary to identify any asbestos containing materials on the premises assess their condition and manage them accordingly.

Typical asbestos containing materials found in buildings:

  • Pipe insulation
  • Tank and roof insulation
  • sprayed acoustic coatings and fire insulation
  • thermal insulation
  • firestop boards
  • wall lining panels
  • insulation board
  • insulation paper/cardboard under pipe lagging and floor tiles
  • jointing and packing yarns and materials to boilers, ovens, electric cables and fuse boards, flues, brickwork
  • fire resistant blankets, gloves, mattresses, curtains etc
  • gaskets and washers to plant and machinery
  • strings for sealing radiators
  • string around glazing
  • resin W.C. cisterns
  • roof sheets and cladding
  • flues
  • partitioning
  • decorative panels, soffit and fascia boards
  • roof slates
  • decking
  • pre-formed products such as cable conduits, rainwater goods, fencing, roof promenade tiles, window sills, bath panels, draining boards, work tops, duct
  • textured coatings such as Artex
  • roofing felts
  • floor tiles
  • suspended ceiling tiles

The above list is not exhaustive but give typical uses for asbestos in buildings over the years and therefore a trained and experienced eye is required to identify it. Of course it could be in portable appliances such as old toasters and ironing boards and these need to be checked also.