The evolution of legislation, which aims to update regulations dealing with the management of asbestos, has been dependent on raising asbestos awareness, campaigning for change and seeking redress through the law courts for asbestos compensation entitlement.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has identified exposure to asbestos as being the biggest, single cause of work-related deaths through asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma, in the UK. It has only been since the 1970’s that legislation, long overdue, has been introduced to finally deal with the presence of asbestos in the home and the workplace. As a result, the numbers actively seeking asbestos advice, with a view to pursuing an asbestosis claim, have been steadily rising.

The current legislation governing the management of asbestos is the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 (CAR 2006), in which the HSE places a ‘duty to manage’ asbestos in all non-domestic premises. The primary aim of this legislation is simply to protect people and save lives.

January 2010 saw the introduction of HSG 264, the latest guidelines document from the HSE, in the safe management of asbestos. ‘HSG 264 – Asbestos: The Survey Guide’ directly replaces MDHS 100 and is the new standard that all UKAS accredited asbestos inspection bodies should now be working to in the way they report and communicate with their clients.

The main changes of HSG 264 are highlighted below:

The Need for Quality Management: All asbestos surveyors and analysts must run an acceptable quality management system with UKAS accreditation as the only independently recognised standard in the UK.

Changes to the language of asbestos surveys: Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3 surveys are replaced by ‘Management’ (replacing Type 2) and ‘Refurbishment or Demolition’ (replacing Type 3) surveys.

Improved Survey Planning: A greater emphasis on pre-survey planning requires consultant and client to work together to clearly identify :

  • The scope of all projects (now known as ‘contract review’).
  • A set plan which agrees all intended actions, e.g. access.
  • An acceptable level of intrusive inspection and understanding of how limitations affect the final survey.

‘Fully Intrusive Surveys’: All refurbishment and demolition surveys are now required to be ‘fully intrusive’ unless otherwise agreed with the client during survey planning. Surveyors are required to access all areas of a buildings structure with the aim of identifying all Asbestos Containing Materials. This may result in increased remediation/repair costs after a survey or, more likely, agreeing acceptable levels of intrusive surveying during survey planning.

Revisiting ‘Locked’ Rooms: When delivering surveys, all reasonable attempts must be made to access ‘locked’ or ‘inaccessible’ rooms. Locked doors may result in revisits by the surveyor which could lead to increased costs for the client.