The duty to manage asbestos is a serious legal responsibility to protect others... so, are you a dutyholder?

Under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, it is essential that people in non-domestic premises are protected from exposure to asbestos. The responsibility for ensuring this lies with the 'dutyholder', who most often is the person or organisation that is in charge of maintenance and repair of the building(s).
Many individuals and companies are unwittingly breaking the law by failing to comply with these requirements and putting tenants and employees at undue risk. It is worth noting that the HSE can impose serious fines on those who are found to be in breach of the regulations.

At Kovia it is our aim to help dutyholders identify their responsibilities and ensure they are compliant. The guide below will help you understand some of the most common questions but please get in touch with us for further advice.

QWho is the dutyholder?

The dutyholder is the person or organisation that manages the maintenance and repair of non-domestic premises, often specified within a contract such as a tenancy agreement. Multi-occupied, large buildings may have more than one dutyholder but it is also possible for the owner to take overall responsibility for the entire building or an external third party can sometimes be contracted.

Further information is available from the HSE by following the top link in the sidebar. If you are unsure whether you are the dutyholder, be sure to check and ensure that the correct person is nominated, understands their role and implements the steps contained within this guide.

QWhat are the dutyholder responsibilities?

The dutyholder must strive to prove that their building does not contain asbestos and therefore must presume, that until shown otherwise, the construction materials used include asbestos containing materials (acm's). Consequently, you must take steps to identify the type, location, condition and extent of any asbestos in your building. This is done most reliably by carrying out an asbestos management survey provided by a reputable and independent surveying company.

Once identified, up-to-date records must be kept of the condition of all acm's and a management plan put in place to manage the risk of everyday usage of the building. In particular, those who will be carrying out any work on the premises need to be made aware of the location and condition of acm's in the vicinity by reading the management plan and/or the asbestos management survey report.

QWhat premises need asbestos management?

All non-domestic premises across all sectors including industrial, commercial and public buildings are required to have adequate asbestos management procedures in place. These include retail properties, schools, hospitals, factories, offices and warehouses.

It should be noted that communal areas of domestic properties such as stairwells, lobbies and hallways, within blocks of flats for example, are also covered by the duty. In addition to this, larger landlords such as housing associations who employ staff to carry out work on domestic properties must also ensure the presence of asbestos is known.

QHow do I comply?

The first step a dutyholder must take is to ensure the 'dutyholder responsibilities' described above are met. This does not necessarily mean an asbestos survey is required but any inspection must be carried out by a 'competent' person. Given the seriousness of accidentally failing to correctly identify acm's, we would always recommend using an experienced surveyor who is P402 qualified.

The next step is to ensure the risk is assessed, any necessary remedial asbestos work is carried out (such as encapsulation or removal) and a management plan is drawn up and adhered to by all employees, visitors, maintenance staff and contractors.