Vol. 1, Issue 24 (Jun 04) Asbestos in the Workplace

We make no apologies for the second NEWS-BRIEF on asbestos in the workplace, The “Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002” is now implemented, in particular the requirements of regulation 4 of the statutory provision.

We have provided this brief on the regulations and urge you to consider the implications for you and your employees when they are working at your workplace that is under the control or under the control of your clients.

(1) Review where you area.

What do you know about the premises? Desk top exercise, review works completed over the years if possible –this may identify where the material has been removed or is located and sealed.

Dates to consider:-
1970 the use of blue almost stopped completely.
1985 spray coatings were legally banned.
1985 insulation board ceased.
1992 asbestos containing decorative plasters – artex.
1999 asbestos cement banned.
1999 the use if white asbestos was banned (with minor exceptions.

However, not just the fabric of the building. Some examples are hairdryers, old electrical fires, gas fires with effects, machinery, gaskets, friction pads, brakes, belts etc. electrical cable and switchgear.

(2) Do not work until a risk assessment has been completed.

A system to check before work is started.
What to do if discovered after works started.
Training for your staff and others

3) Complete an initial inspection

You do not need an expert, you must be able to recognise it, However treat it as asbestos until proven otherwise. If the material in good condition, it is not a problem, recognise that damage will release fibres. In high risk areas, or high fibre release or damage, lock the door or seal the area, take samples (if you can do so safely) arrange to repair, seal or remove. Licensed contractors may be required for the removal-seek advice if in doubt.

(4) Develop a strategy for compliance.

Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 does not automatically require you have a survey to identify asbestos.
Three options exist:-

  • One – if not asbestos record the fact, you have to be sure though.
  • Two – assume all material contain asbestos (except glass and brick). Record in management records.
  • Three – complete a comprehensive survey.

If a survey is to be completed the requirements of the document “MSDS 100″ should be adopted, the survey should be completed by a person holding the qualification P402 Proficiency Certificate – Buildings Surveys and Bulk Sampling for Asbestos – issued by The British Occupational Hygiene Society, we would also recommend that you check their insurance.

(5) Assess and prioritise risk for remedial action.

Three stages should be considered:-

  • One, -material risk assessment, type and condition.
  • Two – priority assessments, damage and deterioration of material and of the persons disturbing the material or coming into contact etc.
  • Three – overall assessments to be recorded and made available, it should assist in priorities.

(6) Develop a long term plan.

This should include location and conditions. How it is to be recorded, with pictures and dates, plans and drawings, accessed by others including contractors.
Priorities for actions including risk rating.
In high risk areas review, restrict access, permit to works, enclosure, monitoring and review.

Define responsibilities, alter and update your health and safety policy statement.

What happens if the material is damaged or disturbed. You should consider emergency arrangements and clean-up after an event.

You may need to re-assure staff who may have been exposed.

All contractors who need to be informed, make sure you allow access to the records.

Supply and fix warning signs, stick-on ones are good, drilled and fixed may disturb the fibres therefore these should be avoided.

(7) Monitor and review.

Action plans should be adopted, monitoring the condition and locations, this is recommended as every six months.

Go and have a look and record what you see, if no change say no change.

Sampling the records for accuracy, checking for signs, have they been removed?

Monitoring awareness of staff, reviewing lessons learnt from asbestos related safety incidents.

Safe systems of working specifications for your own staff and employees.

Consider access to records for contractors and others who might disturb the asbestos materials,

Adopt suitable emergency plans and contingencies arrangements.

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