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The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK.  We provide guidance so that those who may be exposed to asbestos at work know what to do to protect themselves and their employees.

New guidelines for the handling and control of asbestos were introduced back in April 2012. Whilst the overall changes were fairly limited, there are a number of crucial updates for some types of non-licenced work that previously might have sneaked under the radar.

Businesses and individuals need to be aware of the changes but anecdotal evidence suggests many are not up to speed with the new procedures and have not put in measures to act on their responsibilities.

Changes to the Medical Examinations required

One of the major changes that came into effect in April 2015 is that any worker who is undertaking notifiable non-licensed work (NNLW) involving asbestos needs to have a medical examination before they are to start. Prior to this contractors needed to ensure that workers already carrying out such tasks had a medical examination with further examinations every 3 years for the period the are undertaking NNLW with asbestos.

The medical examination has to be performed by a GP or an Occupational Health Physician. The onus is also on employers to maintain a full record of any employee who is undertaking NNLW that involves asbestos including the type and duration of the work and when they were examined by a doctor.

These records need to be kept by the employer for a minimum of 40 years.  

Danger contains asbestos fibres warning sign

Notifiable Non-Licensed Work

There were a number of minor changes from the existing legislation in the April 2012 regulations, most notably with regard to the types of non-licensed work and if a specific job should be notified to the appropriate authority or not. It is the responsibility of the business or individual carrying out the work to decide correctly whether they undertaking NNLW or not.

Whether the work you are doing needs to be notified depends on a number of issues including:

  • The type of work you are doing including maintenance, encapsulation and removal. Notifiable NNLW could include removing bad asbestos or handling materials that have been fire damaged or de-laminated.
  • The type of asbestos you come across.
  • The condition of the asbestos.

The government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provide complete guidelines for any employers, managers or sole traders who are about to undertake the removal or maintenance of asbestos materials. 

Those carrying out NNLW also need to have the right amount of training and knowledge of asbestos handling. You can notify the relevant bodies by using the HSE’s online tool.

Keeping Written Records

For businesses, one of the most important changes in the regulations revolves around simple but accurate record keeping particularly for non-licensed work. This needs to include;

  • Notification
  • A list of workers who are operating on a particular job
  • The likely level of exposure to asbestos

Staying on the right side of current legislation is important for both contractors and other individuals or organisations that have to deal with some level of asbestos within their property, not least for the health and wellbeing of those who come into contact with it. That can include anyone from electricians and plumbers to labourers and demolition workers, all of whom need to be properly trained to work with asbestos.

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