Safely remove asbestos: Why you need licensed contractors

Mock up of safe asbestos removal

Asbestos is a known human carcinogen, and as such, presents a significant danger to anyone who comes into contact with it. This is why it’s essential to hire licensed contractors to safely remove asbestos in many instances.

It prioritises health and safety, and is required by law for high-risk asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). If you’re a duty-holder or a contractor not licensed to deal with asbestos, you face hefty fines and potential prosecution for illegally removing some types of asbestos.

Even non-licensed work requires a proper risk assessment and other control measures to be put in place prior to work commencing, in order to safely remove asbestos.

Why safe asbestos removal is paramount

·       2,595 deaths from mesothelioma in 2016¹

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show that mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer attributed to asbestos exposure, claimed 2,595 lives in 2016. Mesothelioma is generally at an advanced stage before symptoms emerge, often several decades following exposure. This statistic represents a legacy of heavy asbestos usage, but the threat remains today.

·       No UK ban on asbestos until late 1999

Any building constructed prior to the UK ban in 1999 could contain asbestos in some form. Its presence in schools has been of particular concern, but the substance is also widely found in hospitals, libraries, warehouses, and factories – indeed in any residential, commercial, or industrial building that pre-dates the ban.

·       Widespread asbestos use

Asbestos can be found in lagging material used for boilers and pipes, vinyl floor tiles, gutters and downpipes, and partition walling, in addition to many other locations. Asbestos containing materials, such as asbestos roof sheets or partition walling, can degrade over time, releasing microscopic fibres and dust particles.

Heavy fines for failing to safely remove asbestos

The Health and Safety Executive is the body responsible for regulating and enforcing workplace health and safety, and they have the power to prosecute anyone found to have removed asbestos illegally.

Cases where contractors, company directors, and other duty-holders, have either deliberately flouted the law, or simply failed to understand their responsibilities, have resulted in a prison sentence in the most serious circumstances.

Safely remove asbestos using licensed contractors

You need to obtain professional assistance to establish the location and condition of any asbestos-containing materials prior to work starting. Stringent safety precautions are required, with risk assessments, surveys, sampling, and testing, all to be undertaken by asbestos experts.

Acorn Analytical Services is a fully independent asbestos consultancy with extensive experience of asbestos management. We will help you safely remove asbestos from your building, and offer a range of services including asbestos project management, asbestos air testing and sample testing, and asbestos management surveys.

Let us help you meet your statutory responsibilities and remain compliant with asbestos laws. Please contact one of our expert asbestos 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.

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