Asbestos – the hidden killer

‘A property developer has been handed multiple suspended prison sentences for failing to identify the presence of ACM’s before allowing contractors to start renovations at a nightclub in Wales.’

‘A NORTH West Hotel chain has been ordered to pay £200,000 in fines and costs after construction workers and guests were put at risk of being exposed to potentially-deadly asbestos fibres at one of its properties.’

Stories like the above are not uncommon, however the number of people operating within the leisure and hospitality industry who remain oblivious or ignorant to their legal obligations is concerning.

The Health and Safety Executive estimate that 4000 people die every year from asbestos related illnesses, and whilst the trade and use of asbestos has been banned in many jurisdictions, the public remain vulnerable as over half a million commercial buildings still contain the hidden killer.

Who

You are responsible for managing asbestos if:

  • You own the building
  • You are responsible through a contractor tenancy agreement
  • There is no formal contract or agreement but you have control of the building
  • In a multi-occupied building, you are the owner and have taken responsibility for maintenance and repairs for the while building

What

Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate mineralsall containing thin fibrous crystals.

In the 19th century, manufacturers and builders used asbestos because of its desirable physical properties namely: sound absorption, average tensile strength, resistance to fire, heat, electrical & chemical damage, and affordability. It was used in such applications as electrical insulation for hotplate wiring and in building insulation.

Why

In line with Government legislation ‘Control of Asbestos Regulations CAR2012’ it is illegal to knowingly or unknowingly shirk your responsibilities (see above), if you are accountable for the buildings, maintenance and contents.

When

If the building was constructed before 2000 it is advisable to assume that asbestos is present, if built after this date then the possibility is slim and no action is needed.

On taking responsibility of a building you should carry out a thorough inspection of the site, identifying all materials that may contain asbestos.  NDML highly recommend a specialist contractor be hired to complete this task who will not only ascertain the risks but will administer procedures for assessments, training, data recording and ongoing management.

Where

Asbestos can be found in all non-domestic buildings (what ever the type of business) and the common areas of residential rented buildings e.g. halls and stair wells.  Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) are generally found in pipe and board insulation, ceiling tiles, cement panels, wall coatings and textured paint.

Remember – your duty is to protect yourself, employees, contractors and the general public.  If there is imminent danger, seek professional advice from a reputable source.  It is not always necessary to remove asbestos, if it is in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed, it is usually safer to leave it in place and manage it.  Removal can be costly but then so can ignoring the problem – it is not worth the risk to your health or your pocket!

For further information contact BHA Business Partner NDML

Visit NDML website or call 0844 488 9205. 

NDML, specialist insurance brokers to the leisure and hospitality industry work in partnership with experts from all fields, including asbestos.  By conducting face to face visits and offering a buildings valuation service, our knowledgeable staff will be able to offer advice on the above or recommend specialist contractors.

 

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