The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the national independent watchdog for work-related health, safety and illness. Within this role, the HSE regularly carry out inspections on various sectors to ensure they are working safely.
One such sector recently focussed upon was sites involving refurbishment works. During the national inspection of refurbishment sites the HSE found a clear lack of asbestos surveys had been undertaken prior to refurbishment work being carried out.
People responsible for maintenance of non-domestic premises have a duty to manage any asbestos that may be present. In this situation the property will require a ‘Management Survey’ (what used to be referred to as a ‘Type 2’). This will highlight potential asbestos containing materials but this form of inspection is not intrusive. Therefore, if any works are going to be carried out in the property that intrusive in nature and so may disturb undiscovered Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) the Duty Holder will require a Pre-refurbishment / Demolition survey, which involves intrusion into the fabric of the building reflecting any refurbishment works.
The HSE in 2011 carried out extensive inspections on refurbishment sites, and found that there was an evidenced lack of asbestos surveys being carried out prior to the onset of works. Without such a survey, workmen are left liable to disturb asbestos containing materials, releasing deadly asbestos fibres into the air. Nationally, over 3,000 refurbishment sites were visited during the inspections, of which over 800 notices were issued, including prohibition notices for lack of an asbestos survey.
There is also a series of up-coming publications that will be issued by the HSE. Firstly the non licensed contractors guide, which will explain both unlicensed work and notifiable non licensed work. The Analysts guide is also due to be published in 2012. This is expected to include information on asbestos in soil. Finally the Licensed Contractors Guide will be updated and issued in 2013.