Management of asbestos in housing stock refurbishment – a refresh!
The second edition of L143 is now very much issued and settling in nicely but, with the approved code of practice surrounding the duty to manage asbestos (regulation 4) being incorporated, where has this left those that manage housing stock?
On the face of it the duty to manage asbestos only applies to non-domestic buildings and so, for housing stock, this would apply to the common or communal parts only. However, care should be taken with this approach and note should be taken of the guidance given by the HSE in paragraph 92 of the Approved Code of Practice L143, ‘Managing and working with asbestos –
“Note that even where the duty to manage under regulation 4 does not apply, Section 3 of the HSW Act does apply to anyone conducting a business, such as landlords of domestic premises. The section 3 duty stipulates that an employer or self-employed person must ensure so far as is reasonably practicable that the conduct of their undertaking does not present a risk to the health and safety of people who are not their employees.”
A basic search on the HSE’s website shows that a number of prosecutions have been brought against housing organisations and these often cite Section 3 of the HSW Act. So this is not exactly new but the fact that the guidance section of the ACoP L143 makes specific reference to the management of works in domestic premises and the guidance HSG264 (Asbestos: the survey guide) also provides specific guidance on the matter infers that a strong stance can be expected during enforcement activity in this sector in the future.
The HSE website is an invaluable source of useful information and guidance, albeit sometimes there is a need to trawl through quite a lot of extraneous information and publications before arriving at the one intended if the precise URL is unknown. Amongst the information is the advisory note that the HSE issued on the management of asbestos during the refurbishment of housing – http://www.hse.gov.uk/services/localgovernment/asbestos-guidance-refurbishment.pdf
The note still makes reference to CAR2006 but the advice is still broadly relevant as it is written from the perspective of applying the principles of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM2007) to all refurbishment work whether notifiable or not.
The advisory note is very concise but at three pages it may be a little longer than desired. It provides practical steps that clients should take to ensure that the asbestos risks are managed during works and, in summation, these are –
- Ensure that sufficient information is provided to contractors about the location and type of ACMs before works commence to allow suitable and sufficient risk assessment and plans of work.
“You must assume that asbestos is present in areas to be refurbished unless you have appropriate information to indicate that it is not”
- Ensure that an appropriate HSG264 refurbishment and/or demolition survey is carried out and the results disseminated. ‘Appropriate’ means that it should incorporate all locations that the refurbishment works are to be carried out, and should be conducted in unoccupied areas.
- For large refurbishment programmes that incorporate a number of dwellings, ensure that a carefully planned sampling programme is designed that includes a representative proportion of each property archetype.
- Finally, and critically, ensure that competent contractors are employed to carry out the refurbishment works. Work in partnership with the contractors to ensure that information that has been provided is understood and used in risk assessments and that all operatives that work on the projects have had suitable and appropriate asbestos awareness training.
Any work on the asbestos containing materials must only be carried out by contractors with demonstrable competence or by suitably licensed contractors where the needs demand.
At Derisk we work very closely with a number of organisations that manage domestic housing stock and with contractors who carry out refurbishment work on their behalf.
At Derisk we offer competent and compliant solutions for managing the risks from asbestos containing materials and have specialist experience of working with Housing Organisations to resolve these issues.