7. Disturbance of asbestos

a)    Planned work

The uncontrolled release of airborne fibres will present a hazard to health if work on ACMs is carried out without proper precautions. This can be avoided by proper job planning.

 Whenever work is carried out that may involve the disturbance of ACMs (e.g. work on wallboards, old fire doors, or pipe insulation) then the person in charge of the project must first assess the nature of the materials involved. Depending on the size and complexity of the job, this will involve:

(i)   checking for asbestos labels

(ii)   checking Estates Services’ asbestos register

(iii)   checking for asbestos hidden in ducts, above suspended ceilings and behind panels

(iv)   sampling of suspect materials

(v)   a thorough refurbishment and demolition type survey carried out by a licensed asbestos contractor or United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) accredited laboratory.

 A refurbishment and demolition survey is required before any refurbishment or demolition work is carried out. It is used to locate and describe, as far as reasonably practicable, all ACMs in the area where refurbishment will take place, or in the whole building if demolition is planned. The survey will be fully intrusive and involve destructive inspection where required to gain access to all areas, including those that may be difficult to reach. This type of survey may also be required where more intrusive maintenance or repair is planned, or for the dismantling and /or removal of heavy plant (e.g. in boiler houses).

b)         Hidden ACMs or accidental damage to ACMs

 Where ACMs are found to be damaged, or have deteriorated, Estates Services (in the case of the building fabric) or the Safety Office (in the case of asbestos in departmental equipment) must be informed so that steps can be taken to assess the situation and deal with it.

 If, despite taking every precaution, ACMs are discovered during the course of work, or known ACMs are damaged, the following actions must be taken:

(i)   stop work immediately

(ii)   prevent anyone entering the area

(iii)   to avoid spreading asbestos fibres, remove any footwear or clothing contaminated with dust or debris and seal it in a plastic bag

iv)   report the problem as soon as possible to the person in charge of the project and to the University Safety Office.