Safe Asbestos = Safe Buildings

Issued November 28, 2013

Richmondshire business owners must make sure asbestos is safely handled when major refurbishment work is undertaken on their premises.

District Council environmental health officers say it is vitally important that retailers understand the duty they have to manage the control of asbestos – and the regulations they need to follow.

“In the UK each year more than 4,000 people are still being affected by past exposure to asbestos fibres,” said Environmental Health Officer, Maria Bentley.

“So it is essential that retailers manage asbestos effectively and ensure that any major refurbishment work is allocated sufficient time and space for the safe removal of asbestos-containing materials.

“Asbestos materials in good condition are safe unless asbestos fibres become airborne, which happens when materials are damaged.”

Asbestos was used extensively as a building material in the UK from the 1950s through to the mid 1980s – it was ideal for fireproofing and insulation. Any building built before 2000 - houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals - may contain asbestos.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 - Regulation 4 places a duty on business owners to manage asbestos.   They must:

  • take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, its amount, where it is and what condition it is in
  • presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not
  • make, and keep up-to-date, a record of the location and condition of the asbestos containing materials - or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos
  • assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the materials identified
  • prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed
  • take the necessary steps to put the plan into action
  • periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements to act on it so that the plan remains relevant and up-to-date
  • provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.

The guidance can be downloaded at:

Further information  is available on


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