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Asbestos in Buildings - A Guide for Residential Property Owners [Hardfacts]


As a general rule, if you own domestic residential property, which consists of private dwellings and which do not contain common or communal areas, then your only duty is to ensure that you engage competent contractors to carry out repairs and maintenance. The onus for compliance with the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2012 is on the builder or contractor. However, if the property contains communal or common areas then you are a duty holder under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and the following guidance should be observed.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with the generic asbestos guidance on the Aviva Risk Management Solutions website.

The Duties

The Regulations require Duty Holders to:

  •      Investigate whether asbestos or asbestos containing material (ACMs) are present
  •      Check their condition
  •      Carry out a risk assessment
  •      Prepare a written plan specifying the measures to be taken to manage the risk
  •      Inform anyone who might disturb the ACM or who might work on the materials of its presence.

It should be noted that the duties do not specifically require that a survey be carried out.  However, a survey may be necessary to identify some ACMs or to confirm the full extent of their presence.

Nor do they require any/all ACMs to be removed.  Whilst ACMs in extremely poor condition might need replacing there may be alternative methods of controlling the risk e.g. encapsulation.

Hazards of Asbestos

The hazards of asbestos are well known and its presence in buildings makes good risk management essential.

Identifying Asbestos

Even though the types of asbestos are commonly known by their colour (blue, brown and white), ACMs cannot be identified by colour alone. The first step is to identify the materials that may contain asbestos.

Condition of the ACM

The chance of asbestos fibres being released into the air will be increased if the ACM:

  •      Is located where it could be knocked or bumped
  •      Is located where it may be worked upon (e.g. where someone may drill holes in it for pipes of cables)
  •      Surface is breaking up or is damaged or cracked
  •      Has become detached from the structure or item it is protecting (e.g. a steel girder or pipe)

If there are signs of dust or debris from the material in the immediate area then the risk should be regarded as needing immediate attention.

Removal or Repair

ACMs that are prone to damage or difficult to repair will need to be removed.
ACMs that are in good condition, or can be sealed or protected, should be clearly marked with the asbestos warning sign.  Keep a note of their location and mark it on building plans.

Where ACMs are left in place they should be periodically inspected to check on their condition.  It may be helpful to record any materials that have been tested and found not to contain asbestos, in case they are called into question.

Some types of work with ACMs must be carried out only by licensed persons or be notified to the Health & Safety Executive or Environmental Health Authority.

Notifying Workers and Contractors

It is important that any employees and contractors who are involved with building maintenance are informed of the location of ACMs.  They must be made aware of the risk to health and be told that they must not disturb ACMs

In addition to informing them of the location of the known ACMs, they should be aware of what sorts of materials contain asbestos and the need to inform a responsible person if they inadvertently discover or disturb any materials that may contain asbestos.

Disposal of Asbestos

Asbestos waste (that is any material containing more that 0.1% asbestos) is covered by environmental legislation, the Special Waste Regulations 1996. Asbestos
Waste should be double wrapped in heavy-duty polythene bags and clearly labelled before it is transported to a disposal site.  It can only be disposed of at a site that is licensed to take hazardous waste.

Key Action Steps

  •      Identify materials that may contain asbestos on site
  •      Arrange for samples to be taken to identify if (and what type of) asbestos is present using a UKAS accredited laboratory
  •      Decide whether the ACM should be removed or sealed, taking into consideration its location and condition
  •      Arrange for the ACM to be removed or sealed using a licensed contractor
  •      Mark any ACM that is to remain on site with the asbestos label and keep a register
  •      Inform employees and contractors of the location of ACMs and make sure they do not disturb it
  •      Regularly check the condition of the ACM by inspecting it


The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 SI 2012/632.

Approved Codes of Practice:

HSE Asbestos Home Page 


HSE Asbestos Essentials

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Please Note
This document contains general information and guidance and is not and should not be relied on as specific advice. The document may not cover every risk, exposure or hazard that may arise and Aviva recommend that you obtain specific advice relevant to the circumstances. AVIVA accepts no responsibility or liability towards any person who may rely upon this document.

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