Memo M6/12: Work with Asbestos

There have been several instances recently of departments engaging their own contractors to remove asbestos. While these contractors have been appropriately licensed to undertake the removals, the departments have failed notify the appropriate Estates Services personnel of their planned work and there was no consultation with the Safety Office regarding the arrangements for removal. This contravenes the University’s policy on asbestos:

http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/safety/policy-statements/S2/14

Briefly:

Departments must be aware of the location of known asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in their buildings when planning for repairs, refurbishments, and maintenance. The asbestos register is available on the Estates Services web pages and if there is any doubt departments should consult the Asbestos Coordinator. Staff and contractors must be warned of the presence of asbestos, so that those intending to work near it can take proper precautions to avoid accidental damage or disturbance. Consideration must be given to the possibility of disturbing previously unknown asbestos during the course of any such work and an asbestos survey may be needed as part of the planning process, especially if demolition is involved. The responsibility for ensuring that proper planning and/or surveys are carried out may lie with individual departments or with the Estates Services, depending on who controls the work.

Where asbestos removal is planned, the University’s policy requires a pre-work site meeting of all interested parties. This will include the contractor, the department, the Estates Services, the Safety Office, trade union representatives and any others who may be affected by the works. The meeting will verify licences, HSE notifications and certification, there will be a review of the risk assessment and method statement and on-site arrangements will be finalised and agreed. Reasonable notice of the meeting must be given so that interested parties can be invited to attend.

When the work is complete copies of all records relating to the removals, air test certificates and waste transfer notes should be sent to the Estates Services so that the asbestos register and building files can be updated.

The policy is unequivocal and University staff are not permitted to work with any form of asbestos. With very few exceptions, only licensed contractors may carry out the work, and none may be undertaken without prior notification to the Estates Services, who will then consult with the Safety Office.

Departments must ensure that these requirements are brought to the attention of any departmental staff, such as facilities managers, laboratory managers, maintenance staff and others who may be involved with building repairs, refurbishment, or maintenance and that the requirements of the policy are strictly adhered to.

J Black

16 May 2012