Asbestos in hospitals: a complex situation to manage

Abestos in Hospitals.

According to the BBC, 94% of hospitals in London alone contain asbestos.¹ The prolific use of asbestos in hospitals around the UK has created a complex issue for those tasked with managing it, but crucially, it’s a problem that threatens the health of hospital staff, patients, and visitors.

Extensively used in hospital boiler rooms and for lagging pipes, asbestos is also commonly found in staff canteens and the underground pedestrian tunnels that link hospital buildings. Most of our hospitals were constructed before the asbestos ban took effect in 1999, and at the time of construction it was seen as an ideal material for insulation and fireproofing.

Why is asbestos such a problem in hospitals?

Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) degrade over time, and if disturbed, can release carcinogenic fibres that cause life-threatening illness and disease, typically several decades later.

If hospital staff don’t know where asbestos lies, or are unaware of the dangers, it can be easily disturbed during routine maintenance work. That’s why asbestos awareness training, and a formal asbestos management plan, are required to comply with asbestos regulations.

Managing the risk of asbestos in hospitals

The duty to manage asbestos in hospitals falls to NHS Trust estates departments. They face a multi-faceted scenario involving asbestos compliance, the logistics of keeping wards open and clinical services running, and financial issues caused by dwindling budgets.

To add further complexity, each hospital under the care of an NHS Trust presents its own unique challenges as far as asbestos is concerned. There may be different types of asbestos within each building, for example, some asbestos materials may have degraded more than others, or be located in more public areas.

What is required to manage asbestos in hospitals?

Official guidance is that asbestos should be left undisturbed if the materials containing it are intact, but their condition must be monitored and recorded via an asbestos risk register. By implementing a plan to monitor its condition via regular asbestos surveys and testing, a hospital’s compliance issues, logistics, and budgeting, all become more manageable.

These are just some of the steps needed to comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations, 2012:

  • Inspection of hospital buildings by way of asbestos management surveys
  • Creation of an asbestos risk register to be regularly updated, and provided to contractors or maintenance staff undertaking planned works
  • Formulation of an asbestos management plan
  • Provision of asbestos awareness training to workers likely to encounter the substance during their normal working day
  • Undertaking of appropriate asbestos surveys and testing before works are carried out, to establish whether a threat to health exists

Acorn Analytical Services are asbestos experts. We provide professional advice on managing asbestos in hospitals, including asbestos surveys, asbestos testing, and asbestos removal. We can help you deal with the asbestos in your hospital buildings – call one of our highly skilled consultants to find out more.

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

Asbestos awareness: Education is key

Asbestos awareness: ‘Educating the public is key’

WHEN it comes to raising awareness of the dangers of asbestos, education and training are absolutely key. With so much advice out there, it can be difficult to know where to turn for information you can trust and training which is tailored to suit your individual needs. To mark national Day of Education, the team … Read more

Asbestos is a big problem on the high street

Asbestos on the high street continues to dominate the headlines

The headlines have once again been dominated this week by stories of high street premises which have been affected by asbestos. In November, Acorn Analytical Services shone a spotlight on the growing epidemic in towns and cities across the UK and urged companies and shop owners to put the safety of their staff and customers … Read more

Reducing asbestos in schools should be a clear priority

‘Reducing asbestos in schools should be our first priority’

FOR many years the team at Acorn Analytical Services has been calling for full asbestos risk assessments to be carried out in schools right across the UK. With many schools having been built during the post-war period when the use of asbestos was at its highest, we fear that many school buildings still contain the … Read more

Asbestos: Rates of mesothelioma continue to soar in women

Asbestos: Number of women affected by mesothelioma continues to soar

MORE women than ever are being affected by exposure to asbestos according to statistics published by Cancer Research UK. Between 2016 and 2018 rates of mesothelioma – the cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibres -soared by 93% in women. Among those affected is 78-year-old Susan Ellis who recently shared her story with the Daily … Read more

Dan Crask and David Kelsey represent asbestos management consultancy, Acorn, at the NBCAs

Acorn Analytical Services – leading the way in the fight against asbestos epidemic

IT has been a busy year for the team at Acorn Analytical Services as we continue to work with new clients, grow our team and cement our place as one of the leading asbestos management companies in the UK. As we approach the end of the year, we thought we would take a moment to … Read more

Education is key to understanding asbestos

Understanding asbestos: Why educating your team is key

THE devastating effects of asbestos have been highlighted this week after a pensioner from Northamptonshire won compensation from a former employer after developing an asbestos-related illness. Patrick Collier, a former painter and decorator, received compensation in the Royal Courts of Justice after developing pleural thickening. His illness meant that he had to give up work … Read more

Remembering those who have died from asbestos exposure at work

One death from exposure to asbestos is one too many – it’s time for change

EACH year on December 12, the team at Acorn Analytical Services takes a moment to remember the lives lost in workplaces up and down the UK, either through injury or exposure to asbestos. By pausing to remember those who have died from workplace accidents, or from diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma, National Workplace … Read more

The UK is sitting on an asbestos timebomb

Asbestos Knowledge Empire: ‘UK is sitting on an asbestos timebomb’

RAISING awareness of the hidden dangers of asbestos is a key part of the work we do at Acorn Analytical Services. After more than 20 years in the asbestos industry, and having met people who have been directly affected by mesothelioma – the cancer caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos – it is something I … Read more

England star Stuart Pearce has helped to raise awareness of mesothelioma

Mesothelioma: How an England footballer is bringing home the dangers of this hidden killer

THIS afternoon, England’s Three Lions made a winning start to their World Cup campaign beating Iran in their first match in Qatar. But one footballing legend fears he could be in danger of developing mesothelioma after starting his career as an electrician in the 1980s. While former England legend Stuart Pearce is now undoubtedly best … Read more

Viviana, one of the newest members of Acorn's team

Team talk: Meet Viviana one of the talented new recruits at Acorn Analytical Services

WITH the UK in the grip of an asbestos epidemic, recruiting talented, experienced staff to join the award-winning team of experts at Acorn Analytical Services has never been more important. Despite being banned in new buildings more than 20 years ago, asbestos remains a huge problem for many businesses and, as a result, demand for … Read more