What is an asbestos management plan, and who needs one?

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If you're responsible for managing asbestos in the property you own or look after, then at some point you will have come across an asbestos management plan. The law on controlling asbestos in UK properties is clear, but how do you meet the requirements?

In this blog, we look at what an asbestos management plan is and who needs one.

What is an asbestos management plan?

An asbestos management plan is a detailed document that is legally required for all premises at risk of containing asbestos. It's a way for duty holders to identify asbestos containing materials (ACMs) and monitor their condition over time.

Not all premises need an asbestos management plan and those that do may be able to complete the paperwork themselves, but for larger businesses having a competent surveyor undertake the work is the safest and most cost-efficient option.

You can expect the plan to include:

  • the names of the people responsible for managing asbestos
  • an asbestos register
  • plans for any upcoming work on the identified asbestos materials
  • a schedule for monitoring the condition of the materials
  • your plan for communicating the decisions you've made

We'll go on to look at these elements in more detail later, but before we get to that, you need to know if all this applies to your type and size of business.

If you fail to put a plan in place when you need one, you risk a fine or a prison sentence.

Who needs an asbestos management plan?

According to The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, all non-domestic premises must have an asbestos management plan. That includes warehouses, factories, shops, and offices, and public buildings, such as hospitals, schools, and churches,

The rule also applies to the common areas of multi-occupancy domestic premises, such as the lift shaft, staircase, boiler house, and any outbuildings.

If the property was built in or after the year 2000, then it's unlikely to contains asbestos and no further action is needed. However, if the property was built on a brownfield site, then you may still need to draw up a plan for managing asbestos.

Brownfield sites are areas of land previously developed and used for something else, usually for commercial or industrial purposes. If your property is built on a brownfield site, then it could mean that there is asbestos buried underground. It's important that you check with the local authority even if the property is newly built.

You should also remember that old machinery can contain asbestos, and this will need to be factored into your asbestos management plan. Gaskets, brake pads, and clutches are just a few examples of parts that were once made using asbestos.

While small businesses with one-room premises may be able to manage their own asbestos, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that larger businesses with 25 or more employees should use a professional surveyor, like Asbestos Gone.

How do you identify the duty holder?

The duty holder is defined by the HSE as 'the owner of the non-domestic premises or the person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises, for example, through an explicit agreement.'

Where there is any doubt about who handles the maintenance and repair of the building, then all parties should work together to manage asbestos in the property.

It is the responsibility of the duty holder to:

  1. Find out if the property contains asbestos, where it is, and what condition it is in
  2. Assess the risk of the identified asbestos
  3. Put a plan in place to manage the risk
  4. Tell other people i.e., employees and contractors, about the plan

It is not the duty holder's responsibility to remove or repair asbestos containing materials. Remember, asbestos is only dangerous when it is disturbed – if you think you have found asbestos contact a professional asbestos removal company.

To help you identify and assess the risk of asbestos, you should commission an asbestos management survey with the goal of producing an asbestos register.

Asbestos management survey – what is it?

The aim of an asbestos management survey is to produce an asbestos register with information on where the asbestos is located and what condition it is in. These two bits of information are critical to controlling and managing the risk of asbestos.

Identifying the location of asbestos ensures that nobody is harmed by its presence, it remains in good condition, and that nobody disturbs it accidentally.

The survey involves some minor asbestos disturbance, which is necessary to assess how likely it is that the material will disintegrate if it should be unsettled by normal everyday activities, such as maintenance or installing new equipment.

For every asbestos containing material that the surveyor finds, they will record a score – one for the material and one for its priority. Together, these scores will help the duty holder, in collaboration with a professional surveyor, to decide what can be left in situ and what must be repaired or removed, and in what order to tackle the work.

The register and all related decisions should be part of the asbestos management plan.

The key takeaway on asbestos management

An asbestos management plan is a legal requirement for non-domestic premises and multi-occupancy domestic buildings with common areas. The plan is the responsibility of the duty holder i.e., the property owner or person responsible for its maintenance.

For large businesses with 25 or more employees, the HSE recommends using a competent surveyor to help identify and assess any asbestos present.

The outcome of the asbestos survey is a risk register, which will form part of the plan, and inform future decision-making to keep everyone using the building safe.

If you need help putting together an asbestos management plan, or if you need to commission an asbestos survey, we can help. We are asbestos specialists trained to the highest standards and with over ten years’ experience in the industry. Contact our friendly team today to book an appointment or simply to ask us for advice.