Last Updated on August 24, 2020 by Kirsty Smithson
Did you know there are very strict guidelines surrounding the subject of asbestos removal?
Are you a construction/building company or related trade? Owner or manager of a building, or even an employer with a duty to manage asbestos on your premises? Then make sure you know the law when it comes to asbestos removal.
Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety, the HSE (Health & Safety Executive), introduced a new law, the Control Of Asbestos Regulations back in 2006, which have since been updated and replaced on 6th April 2012.
Along with the Control Of Asbestos Regulations 2012, the HSE have also developed an Approved Code Of Practice (ACOP) document and general guidelines for the public to follow.
There are in fact two ACOP’s – L127 (The management of asbestos in non-domestic premises) and L143 (Work with materials containing asbestos), which have both been consolidated into a single revised ACOP.
The Regulations set out your legal duties when it comes to dealing with asbestos, whereas the ACOP and guidance give you practical advice on how to comply with the law, the regulations give minimum standards for protecting employees from risks associated with exposure to asbestos.
Lower risk asbestos containing materials do not require a contractor to have a licence to conduct asbestos removal. The reason being that any exposure to asbestos fibers from this type of work is not expected to present a significant risk, provided that the correct precautions are taken.
However, under the updated asbestos regulations that came into force in April 2012, there are now two categories of ‘non-licensed’ work. Notifiable non licensed work (NNLW) now has additional requirements for employers.
For further guidance on what work is classified as NNLW, please refer to the HSE’s ‘Asbestos essentials task sheets’.
With regards to asbestos removal in general, in accordance with the HSE guidance and under regulation 11, employers are supposed to have a policy in place where areas are checked for ACMs (asbestos containing materials) before carrying out any work that may disturb or damage the fabric of a building which may contain asbestos.
This policy should also highlight that any work to be carried out that does or is likely to disturb ACMs is restricted to those people who have been suitably trained to do the work (they must have completed Cat B asbestos removal training) and they should be supplied with the necessary information regarding the job.
Along with ensuring that only trained operatives carry out any non-licensable asbestos work, the HSE advise that asbestos removal work should be carried out using the best method(s) possible in order to minimise the release of asbestos fibers, thus reducing exposure as much as is possible.
Removal operatives should also wear the correct RPE and protective clothing when working with asbestos.
When it comes to licensable asbestos removal work however, the ACOP and guidance is much more comprehensive.
This is due to the fact that removal of higher risk asbestos containing materials (sprayed asbestos coatings, asbestos insulation, asbestos lagging and most work involving asbestos insulating board) is more likely to release larger quantities of asbestos fibers when being removed than lower risk materials (such as asbestos cement).
Therefore, the asbestos removal work should only be carried out by a licensed contractor.
Workers who are employed in removing higher risk ACMs require specific training and should follow specific working practices. Workers should also use sophisticated respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and are legally required to be under regular medical surveillance.
It is because of the hazardous nature of asbestos removal that a licence to do it is required from HSE. You can find further information on the HSE licensing process on the Asbestos licensing page.
The ACOP states that where any asbestos removal work involves asbestos insulation and coating, the use of any abrasive power tools should be avoided and the wet stripping method should be used instead.
If the wet stripping method is used, asbestos material must be uniformly wet all the way through the ACM before its removal. Although it is advised that complete saturation of the material is to be avoided as this could result in pieces falling off.
However, the guidelines state that alternative techniques such as wrap and cut may be more efficient in some situations at preventing/reducing exposure to asbestos (eg removing redundant pipework).
Dry stripping methods should only be used if there is no practicable alternative (eg stripping using a glovebag without any form of wetting is an example of a dry method that can be used). Employers must ensure that measures are in place to control the release of asbestos fibers, and of course, workers must be wearing suitable protective clothing and correctly fitted RPE.
If you are going to be working with or coming into contact with asbestos as part of your job/trade, then you will need asbestos awareness training as a minimum.
The HSE requires tradesmen complete a course on asbestos awareness if they are working in the building industry on any type of property refurbishment.
Those tradesmen who will actually be carrying out asbestos removal need to go a step further and complete non licensed asbestos/Cat B asbestos training.
At Armco asbestos training we deliver this specialist training for asbestos removal operatives. Get in touch on 0161 761 4424 to find out more.
When it comes to asbestos, it is hugely important to be asbestos aware and to protect yourself and others from any unnecessary asbestos exposure.
Educate yourself on asbestos – there’s lots of free information on the HSE website that you can read through.
If you’re going to be working with or coming into contact with asbestos as part of your job, then you should complete basic asbestos awareness training, either by doing an online course or by attending a classroom based course.
Make sure you are familiar with the law and asbestos regulations, or you could land yourself in hot water with the HSE, especially when it comes to asbestos removal.
Did you find this article interesting? Then check out our other interesting articles below.
For all your asbestos training needs call us on 0161 761 4424 or visit https://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/asbestos-training-courses/ to book an asbestos training course.
Need an asbestos management survey or a refurbishment/demolition survey? Then contact us on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting our sister site https://www.armco.org.uk/