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:

  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

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:

  • appropriately resourced
  • have effective management systems
  • competent for the work

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 licence

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:

  • the necessary skills
  • competency
  • expertise
  • knowledge and experience of work with asbestos
  • excellent health and safety management systems

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.

Enforcement notices and prosecutions

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.

ISO Standards

Check if the asbestos contractor holds any ISO accreditations. Ask if they hold any of the following accreditations:

  • ISO: 9001 - to meet this standard the contractor must have effective quality management systems.
  • ISO: 14001 - achievement of this standard needs strong environmental management systems.
  • ISO: 18001 - the international standard for health and safety management systems.

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.


  • Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA) is a trade association in the field of asbestos management services. Its members are seen as specialists in their field. They have to demonstrate their effectiveness during their audits.
  • Asbestos Control & Abatement Division (ACAD) this is another trade association. They support and represent companies working throughout the asbestos industry.


  • Chas - provide assessments and verifications of health and safety and environmental systems.
  • Constructionline - memberships demonstrate effective health and safety and environmental systems.
  • Safe contractor - demonstrates to potential clients that you meet specific standards of health and safety.

You can check on the schemes’ websites for a list of current members if you want to endorse any claims of accreditation.

Commission a project management service

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.

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