Almost a third unaware of their legal obligation to manage asbestos threat… Although many businesses in the UK already have asbestos management policies in place, there certainly remains a lot of work to be done to make these policies as effective and thorough as possible according to a recent online survey.
The survey entitled “Great British Asbestos Survey” was carried out by the Asbestos Inspection Bodies (AIB) Initiative and questioned more than 600 staff who had roles related to the removal of asbestos or responsibilities for buildings that contained asbestos-containing materials (AIMs). Some oversights in asbestos management procedures that came to light as a result of the survey included the lack of awareness of legal obligations and the insufficient level of information and training provided.
The survey respondents were divided into smaller groups that consisted of those who occupied buildings with asbestos, those who visited these buildings to undertake repair or maintenance work and the employers who contracted staff to carry out the repair work. The most startling revelation of the survey was that across all these groups, just under a third (32%) were not aware of their legal obligation to manage the threat of the asbestos-containing materials in the buildings under the Control of Asbestos Regulations. The worst offenders in this regard were the group of workers who visited premises to work on repairs and maintenance as 40% of them were unaware of asbestos regulations and a quarter (25%) had never received any kind of asbestos awareness training.
The survey also pointed to some contradictions or miscommunications between the different groups involved. 100% of duty-holders said they detailed relevant asbestos information to contractors visiting their premises and 83% of contracting companies said they specifically asked for asbestos-related data from their clients before commencing work yet just 60% of those interviewed who visited commercial buildings said they received this kind of information.
Other findings of the survey included the frequency with which contractors came into contact with asbestos-containing materials. Just under a quarter of contractors who regularly visited commercial sites said they had disturbed asbestos at some point during their normal everyday work practices, 44% said they had not encountered asbestos while a third (33%) said they simply didn’t know which again points to the lack of training and awareness of asbestos risks.