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Health and safety at work

Health and safety at work - what it means.

Asbestos at work

What should you do if you unexpectedly come across potential asbestos during work at your premises?

Stop work immediately, confirm what it is or assume it is asbestos and carry out a risk assessment. This will determine if the work requires a licenced contractor. You should only carry out non-licensed work on asbestos if you have had the appropriate information, instruction and training.

A list of licensed contractors can be found on the HSE’s website.

You may wish to use a licensed contractor who is a member of a recognised trade association, for example:

What is the law?

Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

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, for example; notification of work, medical surveillance and record keeping. All other requirements remain unchanged.

Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 ( – sets out in detail what has stayed the same and what changes were implemented

What do I need to do?

Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 sets out an explicit duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises. The requirements are to prevent exposure to asbestos by building and maintenance workers who may without their knowledge find themselves disturbing such materials.

HSG 227 – ‘A comprehensive guide to managing asbestos in premises’, published by the Health and Safety Executive, provides the following advice:

  • take reasonable steps to find materials likely to contain asbestos
  • presume materials contain asbestos, unless there is strong evidence to suggest they do not
  • assess the risk of the likelihood of anyone being exposed to asbestos from these materials
  • make a written record of the location and condition of the ACMs and presumed ACMs and keep it up to date
  • repair or remove any material that contains or is presumed to contain asbestos, if necessary, because of the likelihood of disturbance, and its location or condition
  • prepare a plan to manage that risk and put it into effect to ensure that:
  • information on the location and condition of ACMs is given to people who may disturb them during work activities
  • any material known or presumed to contain asbestos is kept in a good state of repair
  • monitor the condition of ACMs and presumed ACMs; and
  • review and monitor the action plan and the arrangements made to put it in place.

All those who have responsibility for the maintenance and/or repair of non-domestic premises have duties under this regulation. The extent of the legal duty is determined by the terms of any tenancy agreement or contract that applies, and in the absence of any such agreement, on the degree of control the party has over the premises. The duty holder may well be the landlord, tenant or a managing agent, depending on the circumstances of the case. In some situations, responsibility could be shared between two or more parties.

Management plan for the control of asbestos in premises

As part of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 requires the completion of a Management Plan for the control of asbestos in the premises where asbestos has been identified.

Asbestos survey – delegating the task

The duty holder may decide to appoint a separate organisation or person to assist them in identifying ACMs and to develop a suitable management plan. It should be noted, however, that whilst you can delegate the task you cannot delegate the legal responsibility to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises.

Prior to appointment, the duty holder must ensure that the organisation or individual concerned:

To help you make this judgement you are recommended to use organisations or individuals who are accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). For further information visit:

Published: 13 April 2022

Last updated: 3 April 2024