New Laws to Control Biggest Work Killer

Article excerpt

Byline: By Richard Freeman Wallace

From May 21, rules come into effect to manage the biggest occupational health killer in Britain - asbestos.

Under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002, anyone who manages, repairs or controls non-residential property - landlord or tenant - will have a duty to manage the risk of asbestos.

He or she will have to ensure a "suitable and sufficient assessment is carried out as to whether asbestos is, or is liable to be, present in the premises".

In multi-tenanted office accommodation, each of the tenants will have to comply with the regulations in relation to their areas, while the common parts will be the obligation of the landlord.

It will be assumed that asbestos is present within a building, unless "proved" otherwise. The "duty holder", therefore, has to establish its non-existence, rather than assume it is not in the premises.

Asbestos is most likely to be in a building built or refurbished between 1950 and 1980, particularly if it has a steel frame and/or boilers with thermal insulation.

Around 3,000 people in the UK die each year from asbestos-related diseases, and if current levels of exposure continue over the next 30 years, this figure could rise to between 90,000 and 500,000 deaths.

If you're responsible for maintaining all or part of a commercial property, you must:

* Determine the location and condition of any materials likely to contain asbestos.

* Presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence to assume that they don't.

* Document the location and condition of any asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).

* Pass on this information to anyone working in the location.

* Carry out a risk assessment of the possibility of anyone being exposed to asbestos fibres. …