Property asbestos risks for Duty Holders
It has been illegal in the UK to utilise asbestos within construction or refurbishment of commercial and residential buildings since 1999 as working with asbestos is very dangerous. Historically, it was the most widely used building material due to its protective qualities against heat, fire and sound.
Asbestos is recognised as a major health hazard if disturbed, which requires owners and occupiers of buildings to be aware and comply with legislation that regulates the use, removal and management of the material.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR) came into effect in April 2012 along with an approved code of practice issued by HSE (Health and Safety Executive). Breaching the CAR regulations results in a criminal offence, which can either result in an unlimited fine or imprisonment for up to two years.
Negligence claims could also be brought to the duty holder by any persons who may have been affected by the breach. The duty holder therefore should fully determine whether asbestos is present in the property and manage it accordingly.
The Duty Holder role
Whilst the definition of the Duty Holder role can be broad, it applies to tenants, landlords and freeholders. If a tenant is responsible for any maintenance or repair of the structure of the property would qualify as the duty holder unless the landlord retains any rights to enter the property for repairs, in which case the landlord would also be a duty holder.
A managing agent can also be seen as a duty holder if they have taken over for maintenance or repair of a property.
The duty holder will carry out a sufficient assessment determining if asbestos-containing materials are likely to be present. By having access to building plans, relevant information of the property and by noting the age of the building, an inspection and testing would be required to be carried out by a specialist in asbestos services.
Asbestos removal is an extremely dangerous task and should not be undertaken by any individual who is not suitably trained.
Once the material becomes disturbed, fibres will potentially be released into the air resulting in probable inhalation and fibre becoming trapped inside the lungs, leading to potentially multiple illnesses and conditions. Trained asbestos removal specialists observe the proper protocols and have the required safety measures and equipment to safely undertake the task.
Removing this hazardous material yourself or cheaply via an unskilled tradesperson can result in asbestos being left behind; posing greater danger to residents or workers in regards to long-term exposure. Experts in asbestos testing and removal are the only way to make certain that all harmful material has been successfully removed and disposed of following regulations.