Global Asbestos Awareness Week

             

Global Asbestos Awareness Week

By Stuart Chandler, Associate

Global Asbestos Awareness Week will run from 1st to 7th April this year, aiming to increase awareness of and prevent exposure to asbestos.

Despite the final ban on the use of asbestos products in the UK in 1999, we are left with a legacy of its extensive use before this time, in hundreds of different product types. Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) were used in our homes, educational and recreational facilities and workplaces and many of these are still present today.

Whilst awareness of ACMs has improved greatly in recent years, still largely unappreciated and misunderstood is the spread of these materials within the wider environment. From poorly controlled demolition practices, irresponsible disposal and poor site management, ACMs are present in soils, made ground and demolition waste at most brownfield redevelopment sites as well as many, so-called, greenfield development sites. The breakdown of these materials releases asbestos fibres into the soils and can, when disturbed, be released into the air we breathe.

Asbestos Awareness, through the provision of information, instruction and training, is not only a key requirement of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (Regulation 10), it is an essential basic level of awareness aimed at helping employees to avoid exposing themselves and others to asbestos, either from specific materials (ACM) in buildings or as dispersed asbestos in soils (ACS).

The discovery of unexpected asbestos contamination during redevelopment works can cause significant delays and costs to a project, but this potential risk can be reduced by carrying out building surveys and ground condition assessments prior to commencement, the implementation of mitigations measures and putting in place a response plan in the event of encountering asbestos contamination. These procedures can help to avoid inappropriate and overly cautious reactive responses during site works.

PBA, now part of Stantec, has been providing our clients with help and advice regarding asbestos in buildings and soils for over 20 years including coordination of building surveys, asbestos management, audits, demolition and refurbishment, ground contamination and land remediation.

The presence of asbestos, either as ACMs or ACSs can present many challenges to a development project, but with appropriate awareness, understanding and management, these challenges can be met and the timeliest and cost effective approach determined.