Asbestos information for property owners and the public

| by Clinton Moore

Widely used in the construction of residential and commercial properties from the 1950s until the late 1990s, asbestos remains an ever-present danger. If this material is disturbed or damaged in any way, deadly fibres can be released into the air and inhaled by unwitting individuals. Although symptoms might not come about for several years, inhaling asbestos can cause life-threatening illnesses such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening. As long as asbestos containing materials are well maintained, then there is no immediate risk. But seeing as it was commonplace in homes, schools and hospitals, in the form of ceiling tiles, pipe insulation and sprayed coatings, many right-thinking people are still concerned. So, if you’re a property owner or member of the general public, here is some advice and information from Sperion about asbestos.

Property owners

Property or building owners that are responsible for the maintenance and repair of non-domestic premises have a duty to manage any asbestos contained within. Non-domestic properties include industrial and commercial buildings such as shops, offices and factories. Public buildings like hospitals, schools, leisure centres and churches also come under this umbrella. As far as domestic premises such as private houses are concerned, it only applies to “common parts” of multi-occupancy premises such as purpose-built or converted flats. As a property owner, you’ll need to find out whether asbestos is present, make a record of its location, type and condition, and then conduct a risk assessment. From there you can come up with a plan, implement action, constantly monitor any remaining asbestos while notifying anyone who works on the property.

Members of the public

If you live in a property that was constructed or refurbished before the year 2000, asbestos could be present, as it was a common building material. However, if asbestos containing materials are kept in good condition and located in a place where they won’t be damaged or disturbed in any way, there is very little risk of inhaling deadly fibres. Even so, if you carry out some DIY or have tradespeople working on the property, there is a chance they will come into contact with asbestos containing materials, which can cause fibres to be released and inhaled. The majority of electricians, plumbers, carpenters or other similar professions should be aware of where asbestos is contained and how to deal with it. But if you definitely know that asbestos is present in your home, it is recommended to inform visiting workers.

Domestic property law

Although the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is there to protect householders from work being carried out in the home, the control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 specifically concerns jobs that involve asbestos-containing materials. In domestic properties, owners are not responsible for risks to contractors from asbestos. This is because they aren’t carrying out the work themselves. Property owners and members of the public still concerned about the dangers of asbestos should contact Sperion, as we are experts in the surveying, removal and disposal of this dangerous material.

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