Guest article by Gary McKendrick of Omega Asbestos Consulting

Over in the world of asbestos: So this month, on the 21st November, sees Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations celebrate its 17th birthday of existence.

Good old Regulation 4, The Duty to Manage Asbestos in Non-domestic premises.

It was laid out in the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations (CAWR) 2002 on 21st November 2002.  It was given an 18 month lead-in period, so coming into force on 21st May 2004.

So 15.5 years ago it became law for all non-domestic premises, built before the year 2000, to have an assessment for the presence of asbestos and to have an Asbestos Management Plan, including a register of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs).

Yet how many still don’t?

There are an estimated 2 million homes and 500,000 commercial premises in the UK which still contain asbestos materials.  And there’s a very high percentage of them still not compliant; to the extent that many commercial clients still have taken zero action.

And when it comes to private domestics, though Regulation 4 may not formally apply, there is still a duty for tradesmen to assess all risks to themselves and others; this includes the risk of asbestos.

So here lies an information and awareness issue. And how will the common DIY enthusiast fare?

The cost of some awareness training and then annual refresher training is not a huge annual investment; less than £50 a year even, in fact I’ve seen some on-line training advertised for as little as £14. It might not be the best but I’d say something is definitely better than nothing.

Other common issues are:
  • Surveys done many years ago and never looked at since; meaning
  • Remedial recommendations (to make something safe) have been ignored
  • No condition checks (i.e. Re-inspection Surveys) have been done
  • Wrongly thinking a survey alone makes you fully compliant

Rather than seeing asbestos as being an overhead, a cost, annoying, frustrating, unnecessary, snake oil, or whatever excuse you’re hiding behind –

Why not see the benefits of being fully compliant, which means:
  • You and your people are protected
  • You are ensuring a safe working environment
  • Your reputation is protected (the one you’ve spent years building)
  • You are avoiding any investigations and prosecution
  • Legacy issues of potential future claims from exposure incidents are avoided
  • And finally, you rest easy at night knowing you’re doing it right and you have credible, trusted expert support from pleasant people (you use Omega of course!)
If you can’t answer these simple questions with a confident Yes, then you need help.

Do you know enough?,

are you doing enough? and,

are you fully compliant?

Any ‘No’s’ mean you’re a higher risk of exposure incidents which clearly goes against the intended outcome of complying with the law which is, of course, prevent exposure and reduce/prevent deaths. Sadly there are still 5500 people in the UK who die every YEAR from asbestos disease.

At Omega, we offer a FREE and simple Asbestos MOT to help guide you to full compliance.

A good expert on your side always keeps you right.

Gary McKendrick, Omega Asbestos

What should you do if you suspect that asbestos has been disturbed?

Your first response should be to stop the disturbance and isolate the location.  In many cases isolation will be straightforward and the room or area can simply be locked.  If the space is occupied, tell employees to calmly leave the area and not to take anything with them.  Read more

HSE has launched a new campaign aimed at tradespeople, including construction workers, carpenters and painters and decorators, to give guidance on where asbestos is found and what to do and what not to do if it is found.

Read more

Asbestos is responsible for over 4000 deaths every year. Younger people, if routinely exposed to asbestos fibres over time, are at greater risk of developing asbestos-related disease than older workers. This is due to the time it takes for the body to develop symptoms after exposure to asbestos. Exposure to asbestos can cause four main diseases: Read more

The HSE has revised the asbestos guidance. The Approved Codes of Practice (ACOPs) L127 (The management of asbestos in non-domestic premises) and L143 (Work with materials containing asbestos) have been consolidated into one single revised ACOP – L143 Managing and working with asbestos which also reflects the changes introduced in The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012) on the notification of non-licensed work with asbestos, and consequent arrangements for employee medical examinations and record keeping. The revised ACOP is available on the HSE website at:

Michael Southern, owner of PMF Cladding, instructed an employee and a casual labourer to remove and replace soffit boards during refurbishment work, despite being informed by a neighbour that they were made of asbestos insulating board. Read more