Asbestos

Asbestos was a widely used material within commercial buildings, homes and machinery until 1999, when it was banned. This means that asbestos is common in the general environment and may still be current within some older NHS buildings.

The people at the highest risk of exposure are those working directly with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) or repeated occupational exposures which can give rise to a substantial cumulative exposure over time.

National Services Scotland

Asbestos was a widely used material within commercial buildings, homes and machinery until 1999, when it was banned. This means that asbestos is common in the general environment and may still be current within some older NHS buildings where NSS may have employees present.

NSS have a currently managed asbestos register for the whole estate and this is reviewed to ensure that any asbestos is clearly identified and managed appropriately.

The people at the highest risk of exposure are those working directly with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) or repeated occupational exposures which can give rise to a substantial cumulative exposure over time.

If you suspect that there is an asbestos containing material in your workplace, please review your Business Unit Risk Profile to understand if any of the buildings that we have staff in have a potential to have asbestos in them and/or the NSS Facilities Asbestos Specialist.

If you require additional information you can contact the NSS Health & Safety Advisors through HR Connect Contact Us / Health and Safety.

Public Health Scotland

Asbestos was a widely used material within commercial buildings, homes and machinery until 1999, when it was banned.  This means that asbestos is common in the general environment and may still be current within some older NHS buildings where NSS may have employees present.

PHS have a currently managed asbestos register for the whole estate and this is reviewed to ensure that any asbestos is clearly identified and managed appropriately.

The people at the highest risk of exposure are those working directly with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) or repeated occupational exposures which can give rise to a substantial cumulative exposure over time.

If you suspect that there is an asbestos containing material in your workplace, please review our Risk Profile to understand if any of the buildings that we have staff in have a potential to have asbestos in them and/or the NSS Facilities Asbestos Specialist.

If you require additional information you can contact the NSS Health & Safety Advisors through HR Connect Contact Us / Health and Safety 

Scottish Ambulance Service

This policy covers the management of asbestos, and applies to all buildings owned, occupied or maintained by the Scottish Ambulance Service. It covers activities where inadvertent exposure to asbestos may occur (e.g. maintenance work).

    • When does inadvertent exposure to asbestos constitute a reportable incident under RIDDOR?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) places duties on employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises (the responsible person) to report certain serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences (near misses).

      Exposure to asbestos is reportable under RIDDOR when a work activity causes the accidental release or escape of asbestos fibres into the air in a quantity sufficient to cause damage to the health of any person. Such situations are likely to arise when work is carried out without suitable controls, or where those controls fail – they often involve:

      Use of power tools (to drill, cut etc) on most ACMs

      Work that leads to physical disturbance (knocking, breaking, smashing) of an ACM that should only be handled by a licensed contractor eg sprayed coating, lagging, asbestos insulating board (AIB)

      Manually cutting or drilling AIB

      Work involving aggressive physical disturbance of asbestos cement eg breaking or smashing

      If these activities are carried out without suitable controls, or the precautions fail to control exposure, these would be classed as a 'dangerous occurrence' under RIDDOR and should be reported[22].

      Remember, if you need to report a dangerous occurrence relating to asbestos, you should review your asbestos management plan or your working practices.

    • I may have been inadvertantly exposed to asbestos - what should I do?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      People who believe they may have been exposed to asbestos are understandably anxious and concerned about the possible effects on their health. Many cases of inadvertent, short-term exposure to asbestos will most likely have led to minimal exposure to fibres, with little likelihood of any long-term ill health effects.

      Although the type of asbestos involved and duration of exposure may be known, there may be little reliable information about the level of exposure. These are all important factors in determining the level of risk - the more fibres that are released by an asbestos-containing material, and the longer the work activity lasts, the greater the cumulative exposure to asbestos fibres and, therefore, an increased risk of ill health effects.

      Some work activities are more likely to create a significant concentration of asbestos fibres in the air, and therefore, add to the risk if suitable precautions are not in place; for example:

      Use of power tools (to drill, cut etc) on most ACMs

      Work that leads to physical disturbance (knocking, breaking, smashing) of an ACM that should only be handled by a licensed contractor eg sprayed coating, lagging, asbestos insulating board (AIB)

      Manually cutting or drilling AIB

      Work involving aggressive physical disturbance of asbestos cement eg breaking or smashing

       

      Some asbestos-containing materials release fibres more easily than others[21]. If you are concerned about possible exposure to asbestos from work activities, you are advised to consult your GP and ask for a note to be made in your personal record about possible exposure, including date(s), duration, type of asbestos and likely exposure levels (if known). In some circumstances, your GP may refer you to a specialist in respiratory medicine. HSE does not advocate routine X-rays for people who have had an inadvertent exposure to asbestos. Asbestos-related damage to the lungs takes years to develop and become visible on chest X-rays. X-ray examinations cannot indicate whether or not asbestos fibres have been inhaled.

    • When is an asbestos licence required?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      Work with particular asbestos-containing materials can only be carried out by somebody who holds a licence issued by HSE. Licences are granted for a limited period of time (usually one or three years), enabling HSE to review licences and the performance of licence holders at regular intervals.

      Not all work with asbestos materials requires a licence. However, all work with sprayed asbestos coatings, asbestos insulation or asbestos lagging and most work with asbestos insulating board (AIB) requires a licence because of the hazardous nature of these higher risk materials.

      For those doing licensed work, the current Regulations require that employers must keep a health record for employees and they must also be kept under regular medical surveillance. The health record must be kept for 40 years after the date of the last entry in it. If an employee has been exposed to asbestos, the health record must note the following:

      The date, time and how long the exposure to asbestos was for

      The type of asbestos (if known)

      The levels of asbestos exposed to (if known)

      For further information, please review your Business Unit Risk Profile to understand if any of the buildings that we have staff in have a potential to have asbestos in them and/or the Facilities Asbestos Specialist.

    • What is an asbestos survey register?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      The asbestos risk register is a key component of the required plan on how you will manage any asbestos found, or presumed to be, in your buildings. This management plan must contain current information about the presence and condition of any asbestos in the building. The asbestos risk register will therefore need to be updated on a regular basis (at least once a year). To do this you should make:

      Regular inspections to check the current condition of asbestos materials

      Deletions to the register when any asbestos is removed

      Additions to the register when new areas are surveyed and asbestos is located

      Changes to the register (at any time asbestos-containing materials are found to have deteriorated)

      The risk register can be kept as a paper or electronic record and it is very important that this is kept up to date and easily accessible. Paper copies may be easier to pass on to visiting maintenance workers, who will need them to know the location and condition of any asbestos before they start work. Electronic copies are easier to update and are probably better suited for people responsible for large numbers of properties or bigger premises

      For further information, please review your Business Unit Risk Profile to understand if any of the buildings that we have staff in have a potential to have asbestos in them and/or the Facilities Asbestos Specialist.

    • What do I do if I unexpectedly come across potential asbestos during my work?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

       

      You should stop work immediately,

      Make the area secure so that no one can access

      Contact your Manager and the NSS Facilities Asbestos Specialist

      Confirm what it is or assume it is asbestos

      Request that the NSS Facilities Asbestos Specialist carry out a risk assessment

       

       

      If it is asbestos contact Occupational Health to identify if there is any urgent treatment required.

       

      This will help determine if the work requires a licensed contractor. You should only carry out non-licensed work on asbestos if you have had the appropriate information, instruction and training

    • What is an asbestos survey and do I need one?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      An asbestos survey is an effective way to help you manage asbestos in your premises by providing accurate information about the location, amount and type of any asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).  The person responsible for maintenance of non -domestic premises must either arrange a survey if it is suspected there could be ACMs in your premises or, the duty-holder may instead choose to presume the worst case of widespread asbestos in the premises and would then need to take all appropriate full stringent precautions for any work that takes place. However, it is often less troublesome and more proportionate to have an asbestos survey carried out so it is absolutely clear whether asbestos is present or not and what its condition is. You need to find out if you are responsible for maintenance and are the duty holder for the asbestos.

      The asbestos survey can help to provide enough information so that an asbestos register, a risk assessment and a management plan can then be prepared. The survey will usually involve sampling and analysis to determine the presence of asbestos so asbestos surveys should only be carried out by competent surveyors who can clearly demonstrate they have the necessary skills, experience and qualifications.

      An asbestos survey[10] will identify:

      • the location of any asbestos-containing materials in the building
      • the type of asbestos they contain
      • the condition these materials are in

      For further information, please review your Business Unit Risk Profile to understand if any of the buildings that we have staff in have a potential to have asbestos in them and/or the Facilities Asbestos Specialist.

    • How should I dispose of asbestos waste?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      Asbestos waste describes any asbestos products or materials that are ready to be disposed. This includes any contaminated building materials, dust, rubble, used tools that cannot be decontaminated, disposable PPE (personal protective equipment) and damp rags that have been used for cleaning. Asbestos waste must be placed in suitable packaging to prevent any fibres being released. This should be double wrapped and appropriately labelled. Standard practice is to use a red inner bag – marked up with asbestos warning labels – and a clear outer bag with appropriate hazard markings. Intact asbestos cement sheets and textured coatings that are firmly attached to a board should not be broken up into smaller pieces. These should instead be carefully double wrapped in suitable polythene sheeting (1000 gauge) and labelled.

      Asbestos waste should only be handled by a licensed disposal site. Your local authority [24] can provide details of these for you . It also needs to be transported to these sites in suitable containers that prevent the release of any asbestos fibres while in transit.

    • What are the health risks of asbestos?National Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

      Asbestos is responsible for over 5000 deaths every year. Younger people, if routinely exposed to asbestos fibres over time, are at greater risk of developing asbestos-related disease than older workers. This is due to the time it takes for the body to develop symptoms after exposure to asbestos (latency). Exposure to asbestos can cause four main diseases:

      • Mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lungs; it is always fatal and is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos)
      • Asbestos-related lung cancer (which is almost always fatal)
      • Asbestosis (a scarring of the lungs which is not always fatal but can be a very debilitating disease, greatly affecting quality of life)
      • Diffuse pleural thickening (a thickening of the membrane surrounding the lungs which can restrict lung expansion leading to breathlessness.)

       [2]It can take anywhere between 15-60 years for any symptoms to develop after exposure, so these diseases will not affect you immediately but may do later in life. You need to start protecting yourself against any exposure to asbestos now because the effect is cumulative.

      Asbestos was a widely used material within commercial buildings, homes and machinery until 1999, when it was banned. This means that asbestos is common in the general environment. However, working directly with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) can give personal exposures to airborne asbestos that are much higher than normal environmental levels. Repeated occupational exposures can give rise to a substantial cumulative exposure over time. This will increase the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease in the future.

      The majority of the current fatal cases from asbestos exposure (approximately 4000 deaths per year) are associated with very high exposures from past industrial processes and installation of asbestos products.

    • How is asbestos removed?National Services Scotland

      The removal of higher risk asbestos-containing materials (sprayed asbestos coatings, asbestos insulation, asbestos lagging and most work involving asbestos insulating board (AIB) should only be carried out by a licensed contractor.

      Licensed asbestos removal work is a significantly hazardous job because it involves higher risk asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). These materials are more likely to release larger quantities of asbestos fibres when being removed than lower risk materials (such as asbestos cement). As a result, workers who are employed in removing higher risk ACMs require specific training and should follow specific working practices. Workers should also use sophisticated respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and are legally required to be under regular medical surveillance. It is because of the hazardous nature of this work that a licence to do it is required from HSE.

      There are some asbestos removal tasks, involving lower risk asbestos-containing materials that do not require a licence. This is because any exposure to asbestos fibres from this type of work is not expected to present a significant risk, provided that the correct precautions are taken. However, under the asbestos regulations that came into force in April 2012, there are now two categories of 'non-licensed' work, one of which, 'notifiable non-licensed work (NNLW)', has additional requirements for employers.

      For further information, please review your Business Unit Risk Profile to understand if any of the buildings that NSS have staff in have a potential to have asbestos in them and/or the Facilities Asbestos Specialist.