What to consider and how to reduce the risks.
Asbestos removal projects are associated with high costs and risks. Commercial clients have a legal duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees and anyone who visits, or may be affected by work at their premises. These duties are imposed by:
Clients are not expected to be ‘experts’ in asbestos work and do not have to directly supervise the work themselves. However, they have a responsibility to appoint suitably competent people. They also need to supply sufficient information, time and resources to complete the work effectively.
Clients need to make reasonable enquiries, satisfying themselves that asbestos removal contractors are:
You should also check if the contractor uses subcontractors. If they do, the checks outlined below will need to be completed for them too.
Asbestos is classified as a category 1 carcinogen. Asbestos related diseases cause around 5000 deaths per year in the U.K. Work with asbestos needs a high degree of regulatory control. The purpose of licensing is to achieve this.
You need to check that a licensed asbestos removal contractor has a current licence. This gives them permission to work with all asbestos types in any condition. You should ask for a copy of their licence to hold on file.
To achieve an asbestos licence, contractors need to demonstrate that they have:
Licences are renewed for a fixed period of time. After which, they need to be renewed.
You need to check that a contractor has suitable insurance in place to cover your project. They need to have public liability, professional indemnity and employers liability. You also need to ensure their limits of indemnities are suitable. Request a copy of their insurance certificates for your records.
You should check if a licensed contractor has any enforcement notices or prosecutions against it. Check the health and safety executive (HSE)’s online resource: Public register of enforcement notices. This site gives details of enforcement notices issued by the HSE over the last five years.
Check if the asbestos contractor holds any ISO accreditations. Ask if they hold any of the following accreditations:
You should request copies of any relevant certification.
They typically fall into two categories, asbestos specific and construction related. Confirm which of these accreditations/memberships a contractor holds.
You can check on the schemes’ websites for a list of current members if you want to endorse any claims of accreditation.
An alternative solution, often chosen, involves appointing an independent project management service. Your chosen asbestos consultancy will have an approved supplier list which will ensure that you appoint an appropriate contractor. Their expertise will ensure that all information and required documentation is in place. If a UKAS accredited, asbestos testing consultancy is appointed for this purpose, they can also oversee the on-site works. They will be able to complete any required analytical work. This may include monitoring air tests and four stage clearances, for example.
It is considered best practice that an independent analytical consultancy provides analytical cover. Four stage clearances are required by law, for any licensed asbestos removal project and need to be unbiased.
Established in 2002, Scientific Services has over 18 years' experience in providing asbestos and Legionella consultancy.