What to do if you find asbestos in your commercial property
Asbestos was once one of the UKs leading building materials across both residential and commercial properties. Not only did it provide excellent heat and fire protection and sound insulation, but it was also incredibly affordable to produce.
In modern construction, asbestos is a completely restricted material. It has been illegal to use asbestos in any form of construction or refurbishment on any building since 1999 due to being recognised as a significant health hazard to anyone who inhales the small particles that are released when it is worked with.
Even though it is illegal to use the long fibrous materials, it still exists in a number of buildings. Asbestos can be found mixed into a number of other materials including cement, drywalling and sealants, and when it is in good condition there is little reason for alarm. If the materials should become damaged in any way, however, particles of asbestos can become aerosolised and it is these small particles which can be inhaled causing extensive and long-term respiratory damage.
The signs of asbestos
Asbestos is not easily discovered due to the practices of mixing it into other materials. Manufacturer’s labels are the only way to be certain that a material contains asbestos but, as is the case with most older buildings, these labels are long gone. If you suspect your building to contain asbestos, it is important that you take no chances and treat it as though it does; immediately contact someone who can perform a lab test to confirm whether asbestos is present or not.
Why do we need to have asbestos removed?
Each commercial property’s dutyholder is under obligation from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR) in effect as of 6 April 2012 stating: the dutyholder is responsible for determining whether asbestos is present or likely to be present and that any asbestos should be managed accordingly.
Any breach of CAR constitutes a criminal offence, punishable by an unlimited fine and/or up to two years in prison.
The effects of asbestos
Airborne asbestos particles are released when the material is damaged in any way. These particles become embedded in healthy cells when inhaled and with no way for the human body to remove these particles a build up occurs.
These particles lead to inflammation, scarring and even genetic damage to the cells themselves. This cell damage can lead to mesothelioma, a severe type of cancer.
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