Since 1999, the use of asbestos has been prohibited, but it still exists in many buildings throughout the UK – in fact, you can be fairly confident that any building built between 1950 and 1985 will contain asbestos.
This means that, even though you may not own your farm, you may still be responsible for managing the risks arising from the presence of asbestos-containing materials in your premises. This responsibility may arise through a Contract of a Tenancy Agreement e.g. a full repairing lease.
The Regulations require the duty holder to:
- Investigate whether Asbestos Containing Materials are present • Check their condition • Carry out a risk assessment • Prepare a written plan specifying the measures to be taken to manage the risk • Inform anyone who might disturb the Asbestos Containing Materials, or who might work on the material, of its presence What do you need to do?
Find – you must carry out a risk assessment of your premises. Draw a plan of your farm buildings and mark the presence of asbestos.
Identify – if you are unsure of the type of asbestos or you are proposing to carry out any work on the buildings, arrange for samples to be taken using a UKAS accredited laboratory.
Condition – you must check what condition the material is in. Decide whether the asbestos should be removed or sealed, taking into consideration its location and condition.
Remove – arrange for any removal to be undertaken only using a licensed contractor.
Inform – inform employees and contractors of the presence of asbestos and make sure they do not disturb it
Record – keep a register and check the condition of the asbestos regularly by inspecting it.
Other implications of asbestos in farm buildings relating to insurance
The Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 makes it compulsory for all employers to insure against liability for injury or disease to employees arising in the course of their employment. It is also a requirement to retain either a paper or an electronic record of your insurance for 40 years. Asbestosis and mesothelioma disease can be present for many years before manifesting themselves. There are over 3000 deaths every year as a result of asbestos related illnesses. A claim against a former employer can arise many, many, years after their employment ceased – do you hold Employers’ Liability Insurance? The removal of asbestos costs approximately 4 times the cost of removal of other building waste. If you had a serious fire today, would your sum insured on your farm buildings be sufficient to not only rebuild your farm buildings but also pay for architects and surveyors fees and the removal of asbestos?
Health and Safety Regulations state that all buildings containing Asbestos Containing Materials should be identified with an appropriate sign. In the event of a serious fire, the Fire Brigade would be unable to enter a building if there was a possibility of asbestos materials being present. Even with breathing apparatus, they would be helpless and would have to stand and watch your livelihood go up in smoke.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 came into force on 6 April 2012, updating previous asbestos regulations to take account of the European Commission’s view that the UK had not fully implemented the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos. In practice the changes are fairly limited. They mean that some types of non-licensed work with asbestos now have additional requirements, i.e. notification of work, medical surveillance and record keeping. All other requirements remain unchanged.
*Information correct as of 1st May 2016