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Frequently Asked Questions
How do I identify asbestos?
It can be difficult to identify asbestos, as it is often mixed with other materials. The HSE asbestos image gallery shows a number of common materials that contain asbestos.
Where will I find guidance/publications on asbestos?
There are a number of practical publications on asbestos available for free download on the HSE website.
What is the law concerning asbestos in domestic properties.?
The general duties in Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) apply to protect householders from any risks from work activities being carried out in their homes. Where work being done involves asbestos-containing materials then the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 will also apply, in particular:
regulation 11 (Prevention or reduction of exposure to asbestos)
regulation 15 (Arrangements to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies)
regulation 16 (Duty to prevent or reduce the spread of asbestos
In owner-occupied domestic properties, the owners are not legally responsible for risks to contractors from asbestos, as the owners themselves are not engaged in any work activity.
What do I do if I unexpectedly come across potential asbestos during my work.?
You should stop work immediately, confirm what it is or assume it is asbestos and carry out a risk assessment. This will help determine if the work requires a licensed contractor. You should only carry out non-licensed work on asbestos if you have had the appropriate information, instruction and training.
What is an asbestos survey and do I need one.?
An asbestos survey is an effective way to help you manage asbestos in your premises by providing accurate information about the location, amount and type of any asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). The person responsible for maintenance of non -domestic premises must either arrange a survey if it is suspected there could be ACMs in your premises or, the duty-holder may instead choose to presume the worst case of widespread asbestos in the premises and would then need to take all appropriate full stringent precautions for any work that takes place.
I have just bought a property. Could it contain asbestos.?
Asbestos may be part of any commercial or domestic building which was built or refurbished before the year 2000. Asbestos can typically still be found in any of the following:
asbestos cement products (pipes, flues, roofs etc), lagging (on pipes and boilers etc), water tanks and toilet cisterns, asbestos insulating board (AIB – which closely resembles typical plasterboard), loose asbestos in ceiling and wall cavities, sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls and beams / columns
textured decorative coatings (commonly referred to as Artex), floor tiles, textiles and composites.
HSE has produced an interactive diagram which illustrates where asbestos may be found. The asbestos image gallery also provides real photographs of typical asbestos-containing materials that can still be found today.