Who is responsible for asbestos safety in buildings?

Anyone with responsibility for a building containing asbestos has a 'duty to manage' the asbestos, under the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012.

CAR established a new 'control limit' of exposure to asbestos of  0.1 fibres per cubic centimetre (f/cm3) of air measured over four hours for all types of asbestos. This is a single lower limit applying to all types of asbestos, rather than different (and higher) limits for chrysotile and other types of asbestos. The Regulations also establish a lower peak short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 0.6 f/cm3 in the air measured over a 10-minute period.

CAR includes a 'duty to manage asbestos' in non-domestic premises. The person with duty to manage asbestos is called the 'duty-holder'.

Under Regulation 4 of the CAR, any duty holder is required to take particular steps to comply with the law. They must:

  • ensure a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is carried out to check for the presence of asbestos;
  • check the condition of materials likely to contain asbestos;
  • take account of building plans and any other relevant information, including the age of the building;
  • inspect the workplace to find out whether asbestos is present;
  • where the assessment shows that asbestos is at risk of being present, assess the risks it presents;
  • prepare a written plan identifying where asbestos is at risk of being present and keep it under review;
  • identify the steps that are to be taken to manage the risks identified in the plan;
  • monitor the condition of any asbestos or any substances suspected of containing asbestos;
  • ensure any asbestos is properly maintained, or where necessary, safely removed; and
  • ensure information about the location and condition of any asbestos is provided to every person at risk of disturbing it and made available to the emergency services.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published Managing and working with asbestos which contains the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and guidance text for employers.The Regulations do not cover domestic premises. Nevertheless, your employer has a duty to carry out a risk assessment that takes into account exposure to asbestos.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.