Asbestos in Health and Social Care Buildings: Is your workplace asbestos aware?

Why is there an issue around asbestos?

Health and social care buildings or buildings rented by health or social care providers may contain asbestos if they were buit or refurbished before 2000. A total ban on asbestos use and import came into force in 1999

What is it?

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral which is resistant to heat, fire, chemical and biological breakdown. These properties made it the perfect material to use in building construction.

Asbestos containing materials are usually found in the following areas.

  • Lagging (boilers and pipework) 
  • Insulation boards 
  • When added to cement. 
  • Tiles/floor linings 
  • Spray coatings, textured coatings and paints (e.g. artex) 
  • Sealants and gaskets 
  • Asbestos was also used in ironing boards, filing cabinets, safes, fire blankets and vehicle brake linings. 

Is there a safe level of asbestos?

There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Even very small amounts of asbestos fibre can cause serious and fatal lung disease, including asbestosis and cancer of the lungs. These conditions may take many years to develop.

Luke House, Chairman, Shield Services Group, said:

“We are all aware of the acute financial challenges relating to the maintenance of public sector buildings and the potential risk from asbestos. The Care sector faces a significant challenge as a large proportion of their premises were constructed and updated during the era when asbestos was not viewed as a risk and was widely applied.”

He continues:

“When you consider that the residents of such care premises are often within their setting 24/7, their potential exposure is maximised. As for the nursing staff who are providing the care to residents, they are at a potentially increased risk, both in terms of time on site and the fact that they are moving around the building, exposed to a greater number of areas. Regulators, such as the HSE and Local Authorities must commit to a programme of proactive asbestos management.”

What are your responsibilities as a care provider?

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 places a duty on all non-domestic building owners, tenants, or those in control of buildings, to protect those who use their building from exposure to asbestos. This may include workers, clients, contractors and visitors.

In many cases the asbestos may be hidden, but if you do not know it is there and it is disturbed during maintenance work, this may be putting others at risk. Having an asbestos survey carried out will identify areas where asbestos is present and enable risk assessments to be completed and managed to keep everyone safe. The survey will provide information on the location and how much asbestos-containing materials there are. It will also assess damage or deterioration and the action required.

If there is the possibility of asbestos containing materials within the building and a survey has not been carried out, you should assume asbestos is present, and put in place relevant risk assessments until the site is verified as clear.

Everybody using the building should be made aware of asbestos risk assessments. It is particularly important for those who may be at risk of disturbing asbestos in their daily work, for example, contractors or maintenance staff.

Further information to help you carry out your responsibilities regarding asbestos is available at www.hse.gov.uk.

Redcrier offers a course on the subject of Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)’  The course raises awareness of how substances used or created at work can cause harm to people. It also identifies how controlling contact with these substances can reduce the risk.

If you are interested in more information on the control of hazardous substances then see our range of articles, posts and downloads available in our Resource Centre or book a Demo.

Share this post...

More News from Redcrier

Request a demo

Simply fill out your details below.

If you are already using eBox and need help then contact Support or access User Guides.