Chrissy Falck (UK/Europe)

The Health and Safety Executive state that at least 3,500 people in Great Britain die each year from mesothelioma and asbestos related lung cancer as a result of past exposure to asbestos, and they predict that the numbers of deaths will continue to rise into the next decade. This means that asbestos is now the greatest single cause of work related deaths in the UK.

Asbestos is a naturally occuring material that has been used for 150 years on a large commercial scale, it�s most extensive use, however, was as a building material in the UK between the 1950�s and the mid 1980�s. Although some of this has been removed it is estimated that there are still many thousands of tonnes of asbestos present in over 500,000 buildings throughout the UK.

Unsurprisingly those involved in the refurbishment and repair of buildings such as builders, plumbers, carpenters and electricians are at the greatest risk of exposure as they are often unknowingly exposed to asbestos containing materials (ACM�s) as they work on the fabric of buildings.

In response to these statistics the Government introduced the Control of Asbestos at Work 2002 Regulations (CAWR) in October 2002. These regulations introduce an explicit duty to manage asbestos risk in non domestic properties and as of 21st May 2004 they placed a legal responsibility upon the dutyholders of properties to protect workers from exposure to asbestos.

A dutyholder is defined as the person or persons with responsibility for the maintenance and repair of the building and is most often either the landlord, tenant or managing agent. Under the CAWR regulations the duty holder will have a legal duty to:
take reasonable steps to determine the location and condition of materials likely to contain asbestos;
presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not;
make and keep an up to date record of the location and condition of the ACMs or presumed ACMs in the premises;
assess the risk of the likelihood of anyone being exposed to fibres from these materials;
prepare a plan setting out how the risks from the materials are to be managed;
take the necessary steps to put the plan into action;
review and monitor the plan periodically; and
provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.

The duty to manage asbestos in premises does apply to common parts of premises, including housing developments and blocks of flats, but does not place any direct duties on landlords in respect of individual houses or flats. For domestic properties landlords do have to meet the requirements of the Defective Premises Act 1972 in England and Wales or the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 in Scotland.

Hyder Consulting offer a full range of services that will enable duty holders to comply with the CAWR 2002 and can offer clients a holistic approach to managing their property portfolios. To learn more about the services we offer please call Christina Falck on +44 (0)121 333 4466.