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Asbestos is and always will be a very dangerous material. Having been finally banned for use in the 1990s we’ve discovered it in so many buildings over the years and it should be everyone’s priority to remove it.

The health risks are enormous, and when asbestos materials are disturbed, they release tiny fibres into the air. If inhaled, these fibres can cause serious diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

With that in mind, knowing how you should manage asbestos in the workplace is important. It’s your responsibility to protect your staff from certain health and safety risks as part of laws and regulations.

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Who Is Responsible for Asbestos Management?

In the UK, the primary responsibility for managing asbestos in the workplace falls on the duty holder. The duty holder is usually the owner of the premises or the person in charge of maintenance and repairs. This responsibility is outlined in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. According to these regulations, the duty holder must:

  1. Identify Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACMs): Conduct an asbestos survey to identify ACMs in the building.
  2. Assess the Risk: Evaluate the condition of the ACMs and the potential risk of exposure.
  3. Prepare an Asbestos Management Plan: Develop a plan to manage the identified risks.
  4. Inform and Train Employees: Ensure that employees and contractors are informed about the presence of asbestos and trained on how to avoid disturbing it.
  5. Monitor and Review: Regularly monitor the condition of ACMs and review the management plan.
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The Importance of Asbestos Training

If you’re in the trades you’re much more likely to have encountered an asbestos training and awareness course. This training and awareness is critical and doesn’t have to stop with tradies, it can extend to anyone in any workplace.

These courses are important for anyone who is likely to come into contact with asbestos. These people need to know how to spot it, and what to do if it’s present in their working environment.

There are a few different types of asbestos training that you can choose from, however, some are required by law for certain job types.

Asbestos Awareness Training

Asbestos awareness training is usually built for employees who are likely to encounter asbestos in their day-to-day work life. These jobs tend to be plumbers, electricians, joiners and the like. Facilities managers and maintenance workers might also commonly take this training.

Asbestos awareness training covers the basics like:

  • The properties of asbestos and its effects on health.
  • The types of materials that may contain asbestos.
  • How to avoid disturbing asbestos.
  • The procedures to follow if they encounter asbestos.

Non-Licensed Asbestos Training

Non-licensed asbestos training is for workers who will intentionally disturb asbestos-containing materials as part of their work but are not carrying out licensable work. This training includes:

  • How to safely handle and remove non-licensable asbestos materials.
  • The correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Emergency procedures in case of accidental exposure.

Licensed Asbestos Work Training

Licensed asbestos training will fall for those who are carrying out work that requires a license. This is things like asbestos removal, encapsulation and disposal of asbestos. It tends to have in-depth training on:

  • Health and safety regulations.
  • Safe removal and disposal methods.
  • Use of respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
  • Decontamination procedures.
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Why It’s Important to Remove Asbestos

Removing asbestos from the workplace is a key part of keeping everyone safe. If you don’t remove it and leave it where it is without any precautions you could be at risk as an employer.

Health Risks

Asbestos fibres, when inhaled, can cause severe respiratory diseases. Often taking a long time to surface with symptoms, you may feel fine but it’s important to know whether or not you’re protected.

Legal Requirements

If you don’t manage your asbestos problem in the right way you can be subject to legal consequences. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) can hit you with fines and prosecute duty holders who aren’t in compliance with asbestos regulations. What’s more, you may be liable for any health implications to your employees. So, making sure that you comply is incredibly important.

Environmental Impact

If you’re not careful and remove asbestos in the correct way it can result in adverse environmental impacts. Making sure that your asbestos is removed in the safest way possible means that you can reduce the chances of casting asbestos fibres into the local environment.

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Consequences of Neglecting Asbestos Management

Ignoring asbestos management can lead to severe consequences, including:

Health Consequences

Employees exposed to asbestos fibres are at risk of developing serious health conditions, including:

  • Asbestosis: A chronic lung disease causing scarring of lung tissue.
  • Lung Cancer: Asbestos exposure significantly increases the risk of lung cancer.
  • Mesothelioma: A rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest, or abdomen.

Legal and Financial Consequences

Neglecting asbestos management can result in:

  • Fines and Penalties: The HSE can impose heavy fines on organisations that fail to manage asbestos properly.
  • Legal Action: Employees who develop asbestos-related diseases may sue the employer for negligence.
  • Increased Costs: Remediation costs can be higher if asbestos management is delayed or ignored.

Operational Disruptions

Unmanaged asbestos can lead to significant disruptions in business operations. If asbestos is discovered during renovations or repairs, work may need to be halted until the asbestos is safely managed, leading to delays and increased costs.

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What do if you think there is asbestos in your workplace

If you suspect asbestos in the workplace, it is crucial to follow a series of steps to ensure safety and compliance with regulations.

First, if you think there could be asbestos materials in your workplace, avoid the area at all costs. Try your best not to disturb it at all because it’s when disturbed moved or broken that asbestos is most dangerous. Make sure that employees and visitors are kept away from the suspected material to prevent exposure as much as possible. Ideally, allow everyone to work from home if possible.

Next, take safety precautions and tell your health and safety officer or the duty holder. Ensure that anyone who might come into contact with the suspected asbestos is aware and is advised on safety measures to avoid disturbing it.

The next step is to get an asbestos test or survey which should be done by a qualified professional. A licensed asbestos surveyor can inspect the material and take samples for analysis to confirm the presence of asbestos.

If the test confirms the material contains asbestos, you should get a licensed asbestos removal professional to conduct the removal. Licensed asbestos contractors are trained to safely remove and dispose of asbestos materials and follow health and safety regulations.


Managing asbestos in the workplace is not just a legal obligation but an important part of keeping your staff safe. The duty holder must take steps to identify, assess, and manage asbestos risks. Providing appropriate training for employees is essential for preventing accidental exposure.

Follow best practices, and the law to create safer workplaces and protect the well-being of employees.

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