Asbestos is a word that people respond to with fear and dread. Most people who come across it or realise that their property has some asbestos containing materials (ACM's) in it. The potential dangers of asbestos came to light during the 1970s and become more widely understood during the 1980s.
Over 400 deaths a year occur from asbestosis in England & Wales and whilst many that be attributed to the long incubation period of the disease (up to 50 years in some cases) it is nevertheless imperative that owners of commercial and residential property are aware of the need to be vigilant. The HSE provide a range of information regarding asbestos that can assist people to understand the risks,
Although asbestos hasn't been used in new builds for many years, and its use outlawed in 1999, many buildings before that period may still contain the material. Commercial property owners have under the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations have had the obligation under this law to manage any asbestos containing materials within their premises (weather owned or in some cases leased).
It is hard to manage a dangerous material if you are not aware that it is present within your building. If you own or lease a building built prior to 1999 (be aware - there have been some instances in post 1999 property where ACM's have been found) then you are obliged to have an asbestos register for the property. This register should be made available to any person undertaking work within the property so they can check if their work area contains any ACM's prior to any work being undertaken.
If any more intrusive works such as refurbishment or demolition are to be undertaken then a more intrusive survey is to be undertaken where more samples are taken and tested prior to works being started.
The taking of samples is important to establish to presence of asbestos as well as the type of asbestos fibres. Asbestos can be present in an extensive list of building materials from floor tiles/toilet cisterns and artex to insulation board and roof sheets. The way these products need to be treated depend on the fibre type making up the product, as these materials can contain a range of asbestos types. Hence the importance of identifying the fibre type.
Why is asbestos so dangerous
Asbestos is made up of minute fibres that are more or less indestructible. If disturbed the fibres can break down into dust which can then be inhaled by anyone exposed to them. The fibres can also attach themselves to clothing and be carried away from the danger area and into a workers home. Once inhaled this dust can remain in the body for many years and cause diseases such as mesothelioma.
Dealing with the problem
Delaney Marling Partnership Ltd are experienced in the latest Asbestos legislation and are able to advise clients on how to identify and manage any issues relating to asbestos.