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Managing Asbestos

There is an absolute duty to manage asbestos on a non-domestic premises and the two documents help explain that simply and clearly and provide a tool to record your management system. Most of the time it does not involve an expensive process of taking it all way but instead just common sense and care.

Introduction, the background, the law, types of asbestos

(FS120352) (Published July 2021, replacing June 2020).

This guidance aims to clarify and standardise the approach in the way Scouting manages asbestos and Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs). In Scouting we have a moral and legal duty to manage the ACMs in our buildings and to protect all our Members, visitors and users from exposure.

Introduction

Asbestos is known to exist in a large number of buildings used by Scouting and can cause unnecessary worry or
expense by its presence. This guidance aims to clarify and standardise the approach in the way Scouting manages asbestos and Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs). In Scouting we have a moral and legal duty to manage the ACMs in our buildings and to protect all our Members, visitors and users from exposure.

Background

Asbestos is a natural mineral that has been used since Roman times. Between 1940 to1970 it was considered as the magic mineral and used in approximately 4,000 building products. Up to 5,500 individuals per year die from Asbestos related diseases. Asbestos is only a risk to health if asbestos fibres are released into the air and then inhaled. This only needs to be a very small amount and can lead to asbestos-related diseases, mainly cancer of the lungs, chest and lining. At present there is no known cure for asbestos related diseases. The asbestos fibres are so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye, so just visual inspection of the atmosphere around potentially ACM is not an adequate check to ensure safety.

The Law

Legislation made under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 (or equivalent outside England and Wales), namely, The Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) sets out strict requirements for the management of asbestos in non-domestic premises. This places a duty to manage asbestos risk in non-domestic premises on:

  • Every person who has, by virtue of any contract or tenancy, an obligation in relation to the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises or means of access to or from the premises;

  • Or where there is no such contract or tenancy in relation to any part of non-domestic premises, every person who has, to any extent, control of that part or means of access to or from it.


This means that liability may be an issue for Scout Groups (the Trustees) that own their own property or hold property by virtue of a lease or licence.

The requirement to manage the risk in non-domestic premises involves identifying whether the premises contain asbestos and managing the risk from this material. Even if premises do not come under the scope of the Health and Safety at Work Act, then all members of the Scout Association have a Common Law duty to ensure that people are not put at risk. Therefore all those involved in the management, maintenance or operation of premises used by the Scout Movement must take all reasonably practicable measures to ensure that no one is exposed to asbestos fibres. This means the Trustees of the Group, District or County/Area/Region respectively.

Types of asbestos

The three main types of asbestos which have been commercially used are:-

  • Crocidolite (often referred to as ‘blue asbestos’)

  • Amosite (often referred to as ‘brown asbestos’)

  • Chrysotile (often referred to as ‘white asbestos’)

The law has banned the use of brown and blue asbestos since 1985 and white asbestos from the end of 1999. It was a particularly prevalent building material up until the 1970s but it could be that buildings built in the 1990s may still have asbestos in their construction. Asbestos was a commonly used building material up until its prohibition at the end of 1999. Due to its versatility and properties many buildings will contain asbestos containing materials (ACM’s).

In general terms the more solid the material, the less exposure to asbestos fibres, e.g. fibres trapped in asbestos cement create less airborne fibres than loose fibrous lagging around pipework.

Do you have a problem?


If you own or use a building built before the year 2000 there is a chance of the building containing ACM’s and the law requires the material to be managed so as to control the risk.

Example asbestos management plan

This provides a tool for you to customise to record your management process

Download it here

Asbestos management webinar

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