Norwich Union joins HSE in warning tradesmen of the dangers of asbestos

Norwich Union is warning property owners of the need to manage and control the risk of asbestos, as the Health & Safety Executive steps up its campaign to warn tradesmen of the dangers.

Phil Grace, liability risk manager, Norwich Union, said: ‘Asbestos is the single biggest cause of work related deaths¹ and continues to be a risk that needs controlling. Property owners have a duty of care to identify its presence and take the necessary precautions.

‘Property owners, or those with control of the building, must manage the risk and be clear what their responsibility is.

‘Property owners can do their own investigation by checking building records and any previous fire damage, which may have led to refitting parts of the building, and the nature of materials used. The only positive way to identify asbestos is by having it analysed by a reputable laboratory. Once identified, the location of any asbestos must be clearly marked.

“Asbestos is the single biggest cause of work related deaths¹ and continues to be a risk that needs controlling.

Phil Grace, liability risk manager, Norwich Union

‘If asbestos is present, the risk needs to be assessed,’ says Grace. ‘The common perception is that asbestos is a costly problem to solve, but the truth is that property owners can often manage the risk without the need to spend huge amounts of money.

‘If, for example, the asbestos is in cement then it won't shed fibres and therefore no measures need to be taken. If it's found in the insulation panels in a boiler room, or any area where employees do not have access, then it can be left alone. However, property owners must inform all tradesmen who are likely to work in this area of the building that asbestos is present. Property owners must ensure asbestos is periodically inspected to check on its condition.’

‘Should asbestos be found in an area that employees are exposed to and where asbestos fibres are being released into the air, it will need to be sealed, enclosed and removed by a competent contractor who may need to be licensed by the HSE.’

‘Crucially, any employees or contractors who are involved with building maintenance must be informed of where asbestos may be present and what sort of materials contain asbestos. They must be fully aware of the health risks and must know not to disturb it.’