Why asbestos management must continue through lockdown, say professional bodies

Asbestos professional and trade bodies have issued a joint statement advising all duty-holders that asbestos must continue to be managed during the second lockdown period.

The statement comes in the midst of reports of increasing confusion about the permitted asbestos remediation activity during the latest lockdown in England, while there are further restrictions across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The reminder stressed that the legal duty under the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012 remain fully in force. This requires all duty-holders – anyone who has responsibility for locations and materials – to manage asbestos risks, such that exposure to asbestos is either prevented or reduced to as low as is reasonably practicable.

Graham Warren from industry body ACAD said;

Asbestos professionals, such as surveyors and analysts, alongside HSE licensed contractors, are proficient in the use of control measures, should have undertaken the statutory Covid-19 risk assessments and should work with site-specific measures.

The HSE remains active in seeking regulatory compliance during lockdown and all concerned must continue to adhere to the requirements including the Control of Asbestos Regulations, the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Construction Design and Management Regulations in order to continue to minimise all exposure to asbestos fibre from any source.

Government guidelines also make it clear that it is entirely lawful to enter premises (including business premised and other people’s houses) in order to deliver services and work.

Steve Sadley from asbestos industry body ARCA commented;

It is important that you enable the asbestos specialists who can keep you safe and legal to do their job, even where your site is closed for employees, as part of ongoing asbestos management.

Jonathan Grant, Deputy Registrar of the Faculty of Asbestos Analysis and Management, added:

Across all of those concerned with the protection of people from asbestos, there is a real worry that the important controls to prevent COVID-19 transmission may be misunderstood as protecting people from other potentially lethal exposures. The professional and trade bodies want to make it clear that the hazards of asbestos have not gone away and that we are all here to help.

The bodies have also reiterated that where sites are completely shut, annual re-inspections can be postponed, but it is essential these are undertaken prior to employees returning to site to guard against deterioration of ACMs.

If you require an asbestos or further remediation, ensure
you contact a UKAS accredited specialist.