Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 came into force on the 6th of April 2012, updating previous asbestos regulations to take account of the European Commission’s view that the UK had not fully implemented the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos (Directive 2009/148/EC).
The 2012 changes to the Asbestos Regulations
In practice, the changes are fairly limited.
Some types of non-licensed work with asbestos now have additional requirements, i.e. notification of work, medical surveillance and record keeping, but all other requirements remain unchanged.
What has changed?
- From 6 April 2012, some non-licensed work needs to be notified to the relevant enforcing authority.
- From 6 April 2012, brief written records should be kept of non-licensed work, which has to be notified e.g. copy of the notification with a list of workers on the job, plus the level of likely exposure of those workers to asbestos. This does not require air monitoring on every job if an estimate of degree of exposure can be made based on experience of similar past tasks or published guidance.
- By April 2015, all workers/self employed doing notifiable non-licensed work with asbestos must be under health surveillance by a Doctor. Workers who are already under health surveillance for licensed work need not have another medical examination for non-licensed work. Medicals for notifiable non-licensed work are not acceptable for those doing licensed work.
- Some modernisation of language and changes to reflect other legislation, e.g. the prohibition section has been removed, as the prohibition of supply and use of asbestos is now covered by REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulations 2006).
What has stayed the same?
- If existing asbestos containing materials (ACMs) are in good condition and are not likely to be damaged, they should be left in place and have their condition monitored and managed to ensure they are not disturbed.
- If you’re responsible for maintenance of non-domestic premises, you have a ‘duty to manage’ the asbestos in them, to protect anyone using or working in the premises from the risks to health that exposure to asbestos causes.
- If you want to do any building or maintenance work in premises, or on plant or equipment that might contain asbestos, you need to identify where it is and its type and condition – you can then assess the risks, and manage and control these risks.
- The requirements for licensed work remain the same: in many cases, work with asbestos needs to be done by a licensed contractor. This work includes some asbestos removal, all work with sprayed asbestos coatings and asbestos lagging, and most work with asbestos insulation and asbestos insulating board (AIB). Where the work is on bonded asbestos products such as profiled asbestos cement sheeting or asbestos cement slates or flat sheets, it does not usually need to be carried out by a licensed contractor.
- If you are carrying out non-licensed asbestos work, this still requires effective controls.
- The control limit for asbestos is 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre of air (0.1 f/cm3). The control limit should not be taken as a ‘safe’ level to work at; exposure from work activities involving asbestos must be reduced to as far below the control limit as possible.
- Training is mandatory for anyone liable to be exposed to asbestos fibres at work. This includes maintenance workers and others who may come into contact with or disturb asbestos (e.g. cable installers), as well as those involved in asbestos removal work.
What does this mean in practice when working with asbestos cement products?
- Where the work is maintenance or removal of asbestos cement in good condition, then it will not need to be carried out by a licensed contractor and there are no changes to the requirements.
- Where the work is maintenance or removal of asbestos cement in poor condition, then the work will be classed as Notifiable Non Licensed Work (NNLW) and will need to be notified.
- Typical situations requiring notification are: removal of asbestos cement which is substantially degraded e.g. badly fire-damaged or de-laminated material, or where substantial breakage is unavoidable to achieve removal.
- It is the responsibility of the person in charge of the job to assess the ACM to be worked on and decide if the work is NNLW or non-licensed work. This will be a matter of judgement in each case, dependent on consideration of the above factors.
- More information on what is NNLW and what is not can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/guidance/a0.pdf
- Notification is carried out by using the online notification form at https://extranet.hse.gov.uk/lfserver/external/asbnnlw1
- Notice is required before the work starts, but there is no minimum notice period. You do not need to wait for permission before starting work.
- By 30 April 2015, all workers carrying out NNLW will need to have had a medical examination. Examinations will then need to be repeated at least every 3 years, as long as the worker continues to do NNLW. After April 2015, workers carrying out NNLW for the first time will have to have an examination before they can start such work:
- The Medicals need to be carried out by a licensed medical practitioner such as a GP.
- Employers need to keep a register (health record) of NNLW with asbestos for each employee exposed to asbestos:
- This must include:
- the nature and duration of work with asbestos and estimated exposure for each individual worker; and
- dates of the worker’s medical examinations;
- Registers of work (health records) must be kept for 40 years (and offered to HSE or the individual concerned should the business cease trading)