Asbestos Removal Guidelines

Introduction to Asbestos Removal Guidelines

Asbestos removal guidelines in the United Kingdom came into effect on November 13th, 2006 with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 Act (Asbestos Regulations - SI 2006/2739).  The regulations enforced the use of all forms of asbestos and prohibited its importation.  It also prohibits the manufacture and use of products which contain second-hand asbestos materials including tiles, construction panels, textured plaster and cement sheets.

The Health and Safety Executive Asbestos Removal Guidelines (HSE)

Important asbestos removal guidelines are furbished by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which is the government body that mandates the handling of hazardous matter.  These guidelines fall under the Approved Code of Practice ‘The Management of Asbestos in Non-Domestic Premises’.  

General Removal Guidelines

Asbestos removal guidelines include the following:

  • All workers who have the potential to come in contact with asbestos fibres including electrical, cable or plumbing contractors, maintenance workers or those involved the surveying, inspection or removal of asbestos must complete mandatory safety training.
  • That all appropriate measures be taken to avoid the spread of asbestos and exposure to the hazardous material.  Task sheets are available online at the Health and Safety Executive website.
  • That the maximum Control Limit of 0.1 fibres per cm3 over a four hour period is observed with regards to the concentration limits of the work area.  Accumulation of fibres must never exceed the limit outlined to control contamination of the work environment as well as moderate the air quality to within safety levels.
  • That the exposure of workers should not be greater than 0.6 fibres per cm3 for any period longer than ten minutes and that respiratory equipment and all other protective measures are taken to reduce harmful effects.  A risk assessment prior to the commencement of any work is required.

Un-Licensed Projects

In the United Kingdom asbestos removal guidelines stipulate that most work is to be
conducted only by licensed contractors.  However there are certain low risk conditions where a license is not necessary.

  • Where hazardous work is sporadic or non-continuous (less than one hour per seven day period) for a total of not more than two hours on the project.
  • Removal of asbestos fibres which are imbedded in a non-volatile matrix such as cement or other coating such as rubber, plastics or vinyl flooring.
  • Work which involves the encapsulation but not penetration, agitation or removal of asbestos material.
  • Surveying of sites, the monitoring of air quality (in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) methods) and procurement of small samples to identify the presence of asbestos.

If it is determined that the job requires a licensed professional the tradesperson is responsible for taking a number of additional steps prior to commencement as per the asbestos removal guidelines.  These steps include notification of the HSE or regional authority, clearly designating and preparing the work area appropriately and plan for medical surveillance of removal personnel and workplace emergency protocols.

It is important to remember that there is no mandate to remove asbestos where the quantity of the material is minimal and where the location can be successfully encapsulated.  Often successful long term encapsulation methods are preferred rather than disturbing the harmful material and the associated health risks that accompany removal.