10 FAQs about asbestos for owners of non-domestic properties
When asbestos is suspected in non-domestic property, it is the responsibility of the premises owner to take action and address the removal and decontamination of the site to ensure the safety of customers, staff, and any visitors at the location.
Asbestos removal can seem daunting, especially for businesses that are at risk of prolonged closure if asbestos is found in the property. The first step to combatting the issues and stressors related to asbestos is addressing the big questions that property owners have.
We address some of the most frequently asked questions in this blog post.
1. What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre that was repurposed for commercial use, most notably in construction materials, automotive parts, and textiles, up until the late 1990s. The use of asbestos within these industries was popular due to the fibre having high heat resistance properties, durability, and insulating capabilities.
Due to health risks related to asbestos, the use of the material has been banned in the UK since 1999. However, due to the widespread use of asbestos, many older properties and products can still contain it.
2. What are the health risks related to asbestos?
The health hazards associated with asbestos arise when the micro-fine fibres break down and become airborne, which can then be inhaled into the lungs. Prolonged exposure to these airborne asbestos fibres can lead to various respiratory diseases, these include:
- Asbestosis: A chronic lung condition caused by the scarring of lung tissue.
- Cancer: Long-term exposure to asbestos has been linked to an increased risk of developing lung, larynx, stomach, and oesophagus cancer.
- Mesothelioma: A rare and aggressive cancer that is solely a result of asbestos exposure and primarily affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or other organs.
With these increased health risks, it’s crucial for non-domestic property owners to address any asbestos exposure on their premises as soon as it is found.
3. What is licenced asbestos removal?
Licensed asbestos removal work is work that must be performed by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) licensed contractor. Licensed asbestos removal jobs include:
- The removal of asbestos-insulating board ceilings.
- The removal of asbestos pipe insulation.
- Any work involving loose-fill asbestos insulation.
During these types of jobs, it may be difficult to maintain a safe level of fibre dispersal, as such, working with a certified team wearing the correct RPE/PPE whilst carrying out work under fully controlled conditions is essential.
Be aware: It is a criminal offence for non-licensed asbestos removers to work on licensed jobs. Penalties and potential prosecution will apply.
4. What is non-licensed asbestos removal?
Non-licensed asbestos removal jobs are lower risk and allow contractors to work without a licence on specific tasks. These jobs may include:
- Removing asbestos cement products, such as corrugated roof sheets, guttering etc.
- Removal of textured decorative coatings (i.e. Artex).
- Encapsulation and sealing away asbestos-containing materials that are in good condition.
- Removal of asbestos-containing floor tiles, bitumen roof felt, damp-proofing and mastics.
Since this job does not usually require prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres, it can be handled by a non-licensed service provider.
5. What is asbestos encapsulation?
Asbestos encapsulation is the process in which asbestos-containing material or products are covered using an asbestos sealant to ensure that the loose fibres are not released into the air.
When administering encapsulation within your non-domestic property, it is crucial to recognise that this is only a medium to long-term solution for managing asbestos, more extensive and long-lasting solutions entail complete removal of the contaminated product.
6. What’s the difference between encapsulation and removal?
Asbestos encapsulation and asbestos removal are very different techniques and can provide commercial property owners with different results.
Less disruptive: As the asbestos particles are entrapped, it minimises disruption to your business operations.
More cost-effective: Due to the fact no removal services are required, encapsulation is more cost-effective for the property owner.
A medium to long-term solution: By encapsulating the fibres, they’re unable to break down, which reduces the risk of exposure over time.
The best long-term solution: Once the asbestos is removed from the premises, the risk to customers, staff, and visitors to your commercial property is negligible.
More disruptive: The process may take longer than encapsulation and the property may be deemed inaccessible during works due to the risk of exposure.
More expensive: Since removal is more intensive and complex than encapsulation, it is more expensive.
7. What should I do if I suspect my premises contain asbestos?
If you have suspicions that your building may contain asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), you must cancel any planned maintenance or renovation work. For the safety of your building and its occupants, you must conduct an asbestos risk assessment.
Through a risk assessment, you will be able to determine whether encapsulation, unlicensed or licensed removal is required.
You should only carry out non-licensed work on asbestos if you possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and training to do so. For the majority of asbestos work, an HSE-licensed contractor will be required.
8. I own a commercial premises. Is asbestos management my responsibility?
As required by Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, building owners are obligated to manage asbestos risk in non-domestic properties or hire a responsible person to act as a ‘duty holder’. The duty holder is responsible for determining whether asbestos is present or likely to be present in the property and managing the asbestos-containing materials accordingly.
The duty holder will:
- Assume the presence of asbestos unless it can be proved otherwise;
- Identify the presence of asbestos in the property, as well as the type, quality, and condition of the fibres.
- Complete a risk assessment to determine the possibility of asbestos fibre exposure and create a management strategy for the hazards found.
- Implement the strategy, assess it, and make any necessary adjustments that may be required.
- Keep up-to-date records of all work and risks identified.
It is the sole legal responsibility of the commercial property owner to make sure that they or the duty holder carry out these checks to ensure that the building is free of asbestos-containing materials.
9. What should I do with asbestos waste?
As asbestos waste can have serious adverse effects on the environment and human health, it needs to be disposed of at a landfill with a special permit authorised to accept ACMs.
All materials that contain asbestos or are contaminated with asbestos must be double-bagged and placed into a lockable, enclosed skip. This includes respirator equipment, overalls and sampling waste that has come into contact with asbestos. You must also dispose of any personal protective equipment (PPE) that has been contaminated with asbestos or clean it at a suitably equipped facility.
The majority of local councils will offer a collection service for a reduced fee; however, there is often a limit on the amount that can be taken, and you are typically required to wait at least a week for a suitable collection time.
At Henderson Environmental, we provide a waste collection and disposal service that enables us to securely and appropriately dispose of any asbestos products.
10. Who can help me with the safe removal of ACMs?
If you are looking for the safe removal of ACMs from your property, our specialist team is here to help.
We have worked in the asbestos removal industry for over 40 years, continuously eliminating the risk of ACMs from buildings and keeping people safe throughout the process.
Our team of licenced contractors are equipped with the necessary training and qualifications to remove and dispose of asbestos-causing materials (ACMs) in compliance with current health and safety requirements.
We recognise the significance of detecting asbestos to prevent the possible development of diseases. We will provide you with a solution that suits all levels of contamination, avoiding closures when possible, and always prioritising safety first.
If you require expert, high-quality asbestos removal solutions, get in touch today.
From the enquiry to the completion of the work, the service is outstanding. All members of staff who attended the site are professional, very polite, did their work and when I asked to do any extra work, it was not a problem, they just did it.
Lena Jopling, Hutchinson Environmental Solutions, Northumberland
"Friendly and Polite"
Hendersons stripped the asbestos ceiling panels from our garage and removed the panels from site. I was very happy with the professional and efficient way in which the work was carried out. The team were very friendly and polite and they left the garage and surrounding area clean and tidy. The work area was tested by an independent company and found to be clean and free of asbestos fibres.
John Knowles, County Durham
"Completed on Time"
All the work was completed on time and to our expectations The staff were very pleasant and checked regularly that we were happy with the progress.
Tony Turnbull, Tynemouth
"Professional Approach "
We were delighted by the professional approach and customer service that Henderson provided. From the onset, they demonstrated a highly structured and well-planned approach. This was also seen in how they approached the work on-site, as staff were professional, and friendly but also very concerned to do the right job. An excellent service at a reasonable price.
Peter Upton, Hexham
I received excellent service from everyone at Henderson as all team members are friendly, helpful, and professional. I would recommend Henderson Environmental to anyone with an asbestos issue and on the strength of the great job that they did, if I ever need soundproofing I would go straight to them.
G Parker, Newcastle Upon Tyne
"Clean and Efficient Job"
Ian and his team provided us with an excellent service at a competitive price compared to others. The team were fantastic, arriving on time and working continuously to get the job done. Once completed they showed me the area they had cleared and it had been done to a very high standard, all materials were taken away and the area was thoroughly cleaned. I would highly recommend to all.
Sam Benfield, Newcastle Upon Tyne
"Stress-Free Removal "
When I was first told I had asbestos I was concerned mostly about what it meant to remove it and how destructive the process would be. I needn’t have worried as the team were in and out really quickly, working professionally, and that took all of the stress out of the situation. Thanks for a fantastic job guys!
Adrian Young, Whitley Bay
We owe a huge thanks to Ian and the team for making the asbestos removal go so easily and to plan. The impact to tenants has been as minimal as possible and the asbestos skip was removed immediately. The job couldn’t have gone better and we look forward to working with you again in the future.
Neil Joslin, The Gateshead Housing Company
"Efficient and On-Time"
I needed a job done quickly and the team came out to give me a quote the following day ad provided the estimate a day later. The work was completed within the estimated time frame and given that it involved removing a ceiling and taking the wall back to brick, we expected a mess but all of the waste was removed and not even a spec of dust was left behind. It’s rare these days to find a company that surpasses expectations and these guys do just that.
Christina Porter, Whickham, Newcastle Upon Tyne
"Safe and Collaborative Team"
The Henderson team were very easy to talk to and it was simple to schedule the removal to suit our calendar. The team on-site worked with our roofers to make sure the building was watertight by the end of the day. All in all Ian and the company were great to work with.
Hamilton Building and Joinery Services