Asbestos – A Duty to Manage
As club owners or managers, you have a general duty to protect any person, staff or member of the public, from exposure to asbestos. It’s important that you understand the risks and how to manage them. In this blog, we’ll briefly explore what the term ‘asbestos’ actually means, and how you can go about performing the relevant checks.
So what exactly is asbestos?
Asbestos, contrary to popular belief, isn’t one single harmful material. The term itself covers a number of fibrous materials that can cause serious health problems.
To be dangerous, the fibres have to a) be disturbed and b) be inhaled. But if these things happen, the results can be fatal. The airborne fibres become lodged in the lungs and digestive system, causing complications and diseases like lung cancer.
Figures show that around 4500 people die each year from breathing in fibrous materials. That makes it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.
Where do you find asbestos?
Asbestos could be found anywhere in building built before the turn of the millennium. Common locations within clubs and bars include:
- Loose fill insulation
- Toilet seat and cistern
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Textiles such as fire blankets
- AIB ceiling tiles.
Asbestos was in many of the common materials used in the building trade before its harmful nature was discovered, so there is a possibility it could be lurking anywhere in your venue.
What is the law surrounding the management of Asbestos?
The control of Asbestos regulations 2012 require whoever is responsible for maintenance of your property to arrange a survey from a qualified company if they believe there may be ACMs (asbestos materials) in the building.
If you haven’t organised a survey and your building is more than 18 years old, we would advise that you arrange one as soon as you can. Aside from the obvious health risks to you, your staff and your customers, there are heavy legal penalties for negligence. Below, we’ve recapped on some recent Court Cases involving asbestos. The first shows the potential outcomes of not having a survey. The second shows the ramifications of not having the proper qualifications to remove asbestos.
- Two family run companies have appeared in court after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an unannounced visit on a basement conversion and found that neither firm had undertaken an asbestos survey. The work involved the refurbishment of the basement, a former restaurant unit, as a bar. The HSE arrived unannounced to inspect the work, inspectors discovered that an asbestos survey had not been carried out before the tradesmen had started stripping out the space. The two company, s received fines totalling £34,000. It was also ordered to pay the combined costs for both defendants of £10,232.
- In June 2015, Brian Roberts, a builder, was sentenced to imprisonment for exposing workers to asbestos. Roberts received a 26-week custodial sentence for a breach of regulation 8(1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, for undertaking work with asbestos without a licence. Roberts was engaged to remove asbestos from a commercial unit on an industrial estate in Colwyn Bay. He removed asbestos insulating board (AIB) from the unit, despite not holding a licence to work with this material.
Further information on the risk management of asbestos, fill out the contact form on this site or call the number at the top of the page.