About Asbestos

About Asbestos, diseases, duty, exemption certificates

Asbestos is still found today in many buildings built prior to the year 2000.

The term asbestos means “inextinguishable”. This relates to the evidence that the material doesn’t burn – one of the many reasons asbestos was widely used in building materials in the 1950s until the late 1990s. Alongside protecting against heat, asbestos offers insulation against heat and electricity and is durable against corrosion. As a result, asbestos was commonly used in products like ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, boilers, sprayed coating and garage roof sheets and is still commonly found in buildings built prior to 2000. For more information on where asbestos is likely to be found click here

Every week, 20 tradespeople, on average die from asbestos related diseases.

Exposure to asbestos is known to cause several serious diseases, some of which can be fatal. If products containing asbestos (ACMs) are disturbed, the tiny fibres are released into the air and when breathed in, they become trapped in the lungs and stay there for many years. It is over time when these fibres accumulate and lead to serious health problems, including; Asbestosis, Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer and Plural Thickening. Read more about the dangers of asbestos.


What is the duty?

The duty to manage asbestos is contained in regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It requires the person who has the duty (ie the ‘dutyholder’) to:

  • Take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, its amount, where it is and what condition it is in
  • Presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not make, and keep up-to-date, a record of the location and condition of the asbestos- containing materials – or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos
  • Assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the materials identified
  • Prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed
  • Take the necessary steps to put the plan into action
  • Periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements to act on it so that the plan remains relevant and up-to-date
  • Provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them


Current exemption certificates

The Health and Safety Executive has granted the following class exemption certificates:

  • Museum sector 13/02/2015 PDF to enable the ‘placing on the market’ of artefacts that contain asbestos for exhibitions etc.
  • Acetylene gas cylinders 23/12/2015 PDF to enable the ‘placing on the market’ of acetylene gas cylinders that contain asbestos.
  • Heritage vehicles 23/12/2015 PDF to enable the ‘placing on the market’ of heritage vehicles that contain asbestos.
  • These exemption certificates are subject to a number of conditions that must be complied with. HSE can review and / or revoke an exemption at any time.