What is a duty holder? And what should they do to comply with asbestos legislation?

If you are reading this then you are probably already conscientious to some degree to ensure you safely manage any asbestos that may exist on a site for which you have responsibility.

Central to understanding what obligations you have in this regard, is knowing whose duty it is to manage asbestos on any given premises, and what steps they must take to comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 – otherwise known as CAR 2012.  

What does a duty holder have to do to comply with asbestos legislation

What is a duty holder?

The ‘duty’ to manage asbestos is outlined in Regulation 4 of CAR 2012. These regulations stipulate what is required of the person who has the duty to manage asbestos on a particular non-domestic site, with this person being known as the ‘duty holder’.

It isn’t always immediately obvious who the duty holder for a particular building actually is. If this is the case for the building that you use and occupy, it is therefore crucial to seek professional advice, so that you are in no doubt about your responsibilities in relation to asbestos management.

In a nutshell, the duty holder will be either the owner of the non-domestic premises, or the person or organisation that is clearly responsible for the building’s maintenance or repair. The identity of the latter may be made clear through an explicit arrangement, such as a tenancy agreement or contract.

What is the duty holder responsible for?

Regulation 4 of CAR 2012 makes clear that the owners and occupiers of non-domestic premises have an explicit duty to assess and manage the risks presented by asbestos on a given site.

The use of asbestos in industries such as construction is now banned in the UK, but the substance remains present in many buildings around the country constructed before the year 2000. The duty holder is responsible for protecting the people who work in or otherwise use the premises from the potentially profoundly serious health risks that contact with asbestos poses.

What are the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012?

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, or CAR 2012, came into force on 6 April 2012. They incorporated previous UK asbestos regulations, and essentially represented an update to the law, to take account of the view of the European Commission that the UK had not fully implemented the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos.

Included in these regulations – albeit unchanged from the regulatory situation prior to CAR 2012 – is a duty for those responsible for the maintenance of non-domestic premises to also manage the asbestos within them.

Who do the Control of Asbestos Regulations apply to?

If you are a duty holder, as defined on the terms above, CAR 2012 will apply to you, and you will need to carry out the tasks mentioned below.

However, it is not only the duty holder who needs to be aware of CAR 2012, as others are also expected to cooperate as far as is necessary to enable the duty holder to comply with their own requirements.

Ultimately, CAR 2012 applies in some way to duty holders, employers and employees alike, so it is important to be well-informed on where your own responsibilities under this legislation may start and end.

What is a duty holder required to do?

In simple terms, the duty holder is expected to do the following:

  • Take reasonable steps to determine whether asbestos is present on the site, and if so, its amount, location and condition
  • Presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence this is not the case
  • Assemble and maintain a record of the location and condition of any on-site asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), or materials presumed to contain asbestos
  • Assess the risk of anyone being exposed to asbestos fibres from the identified materials
  • Prepare a plan that outlines in detail how the risks from ACMs will be managed
  • Take the required steps to implement the plan
  • Undertake periodic reviewing and monitoring of the plan and the arrangements for implementing it, to ensure the plan remains relevant and up to date
  • Provide information on the location and condition of any on-site ACMs to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them

What happens if the duty holder fails to comply with the law on asbestos?

Potential penalties for duty holders who are non-compliant with the regulations will depend on the scale and nature of the offence.

If, for instance, you do not have a plan in place for dealing with asbestos on the site for which you are responsible, you could be hit with a fine of up to £20,000, or imprisonment for up to six months. A serious breach of the regulations could lead to an unlimited fine and/or two years’ imprisonment.

All duty holders must comply with the regulations and to do this they must be competent. The start of the journey to competence is suitable and sufficient training. All duty holders must as a minimum have The Duty to Manage Asbestos Training. Book Yours Now.

Would you appreciate the advice, guidance and services of accredited asbestos consultants who could go a long way to ensuring you fulfil your obligations as a duty holder? If so, you are welcome to enquire to Oracle Solutions for a fast and free quote.

What is a duty holder? And what should they do to comply with asbestos legislation? 1

Written by Jess Scott

Jess Scott has been an all-round asbestos consultant since 1996. That’s nearly 3 decades of asbestos knowledge. He spends his time sharing that knowledge with the team at Oracle and with their clients. Jess's goal is, and always has been, to use my expertise in helping people to comply with the law. This legal compliance ultimately helps to protect everyone from the harmful effects of asbestos. Jess has acted as an asbestos expert witness in legal cases and is involved in many asbestos educational activities throughout the UK.