Asbestos is one of those subjects that’s easier to sweep under the carpet, but at what cost? Find out if you need an Asbestos Policy – and also a Management Plan.
1: You are in charge of or manage property
If you manage a property portfolio, large or small, either freeholds or leaseholds, ultimately you are responsible for managing any asbestos risk. To achieve this, everybody in your organisation must be proven to be competent in acknowledging that asbestos could be present, and must know what action must be taken.
This means you need a policy and documented procedures to cover all expected or unexpected eventualities. This acts as a reference guide for you, your staff, third party operatives, managers, directors and owners. It’s also a reference document that will satisfy the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) should there be any future issues.
If a situation arose where you had an accident and it had been reported to, or investigated by the HSE, the asbestos policy and procedure would be used as the guide to how all the interactions with asbestos are managed.
Every member of your staff should be aware of these procedures and the whole system needs to be designed so that this document can be used as a basis for the investigation.
If these documents don’t exist, then its very easy for the HSE to assume negligence and prosecutions start to become a realistic outcome.
2: You manage people who work on properties directly or indirectly
If you instruct contractors, tradesman or surveyors who enter properties, you must first have a policy and procedure in place that lays out exactly how this is managed.
For example, your procedure should contain a check list that all contractors have an up-to-date asbestos awareness certificate before they are accepted as an approved contractor. The asbestos survey should be consulted before work commences and, perhaps the person instructing these operatives has a duty to manage them and the site.
All of this information will be contained in the procedures manual, and must be accessible to all personnel.
3: You own a business that works on, owns or manages building fabric
As an owner or director of a business it is your duty to know that all your staff are safe under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974). You must be able to demonstrate that you have given careful consideration to all aspects of safety and compliance. This covers such things as needing a gas certificate before you work on gas appliances and pipework, or needing an electrician to be certified. The law states that an operative must have an awareness of asbestos and you, as the owner of the business, must be able to prove that person is competent.
You have a duty to manage your business and set up processes and procedures that limit exposure to staff, contractors, residents and the public. Not complying with your duty to manage can result in fines prosecution and potentially a jail sentence. It’s a very serious offence and the HSE regularly investigate and prosecute asbestos offences.
4: You have had a person exposed to asbestos
If one of the people you are directly or indirectly responsible for is exposed to asbestos, you should have access to a set structure that outlines how this is investigated. This should be documented in your Asbestos Procedure Manual and should include how you can change the manual to prevent the same incident happening again. The manual needs to identify who should be notified and how the information is recorded.
If you make changes to the manual they should be noted and dated. Ideally, they should also be actively communicated to your staff, contractors or other people working in your building or on your sites.
5: You are indirectly responsible for personnel who do all the above
Ultimately, the buck stops with you! It’s your responsibility to make your business and educate those working in it or with it compliant to asbestos regulation and guidance. If you fail to do so or don’t actively ensure that everyone in your business is aware of the danger and the procedures that surround it’s identification and management, it could result in prosecution and potentially, Jail.
So it makes sense for all your procedures and policies to be audited and shown to be compliant. Managing all aspects of asbestos exposure is a key part of your duty of care as an employer.
Find out more by visiting our Advice section on the website