Who does the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 apply to?

The fact that you are reading this will hopefully indicate that you already have some awareness of the importance of asbestos within a building being carefully and responsibly managed.

Asbestos isn’t merely a material that can be extremely dangerous to human health; the fact that its fibres are microscopic, and unable to be seen by the naked eye, underlines that you cannot depend on identifying asbestos by sight alone, before taking the steps to tackle it.

You might not, however, know exactly what the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 – commonly referred to as ‘CAR 2012’ – are, and who is expected to abide by those regulations.

Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

What are the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012?

As the name suggests, the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 came into force in 2012 – 6th April of that year, to be exact.

These regulations superseded the Control of Asbestos at Work 2006 regulations. They represented an update of previous asbestos regulations in the UK, in response to the view of the European Commission that the UK had not fully implemented the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos (Directive 2009/148/EC).

The purpose of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 is to serve as a framework for controlling exposure to asbestos and managing asbestos in buildings.

While the above backstory to the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 might sound drastic, in practice, the requirements for those managing asbestos in their buildings did not greatly change from the situation with previous regulations.

Among the changes was that some types of non-licensed work with asbestos were now subject to additional requirements, including in relation to the notification of work, medical surveillance, and recordkeeping.

Who is subject to the Control of Asbestos Regulations?

It can be easy to become confused as to whether the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 applies to you, given that the regulations are applicable to different people at different times.

However, to explain in simple terms, there are essentially two types of people that are required to comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations: duty holders and employers.

These types of people, in turn, may arrange for other people – such as managers, maintenance staff, safety officers, or estate managers – to undertake roles that enable them to meet their responsibilities under CAR 2012.

  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) describes the duty holder as “the owner of the non-domestic premises or the person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises, for example through an explicit agreement such as a tenancy agreement or contract.” It isn’t always entirely clear who a duty holder is under CAR 2012; in the case of a school, for instance, it could be the head teacher who holds this role, the chair of governors, or even the local council. So, if you are in any doubt as to whether you could be classed as the duty holder, it is crucial to seek professional advice.
  • If you are an employer, you will have a duty to protect your employees from coming into contact with asbestos in the course of their work. To help you achieve such compliance, you will need to ensure your employees receive appropriate asbestos awareness training. This will help the given employee to be well-informed on the risks that asbestos can represent if they are required to carry out work at premises where the material will be present.

What sorts of premises do the regulations apply to?

With the use of asbestos in the UK having been completely banned in 1999, it is generally understood that the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 apply to properties constructed prior to the year 2000, for the simple reason that these are the buildings in which the substance is likely to be present.

Officially, however, CAR 2012 applies to all non-domestic premises, irrespective of the nature of the business or industry. This means that the regulations must be accounted for as far as all commercial, industrial, and public buildings are concerned, encompassing such structures as offices, shops, factories, schools, and hospitals.

There can be a perception in some quarters that the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 does not apply to any domestic buildings, although this isn’t quite true. The regulations still apply to the ‘common areas’ of certain domestic premises, such as blocks of flats, encompassing the likes of foyers, staircases, gardens, and lifts, but not the individual flats themselves.

How do you comply with the regulations?

As a duty holder under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, you will be expected to manage the risk of asbestos presented at premises for which you are responsible. You can fulfil your duties by taking the following steps:

  • Ascertaining whether there are any asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) present in the building for which you are a duty holder; if any asbestos is discovered, a record will need to be made of its amount, location, and condition
  • Presuming that materials contain asbestos unless strong evidence exists that this isn’t the case
  • Producing and maintaining up-to-date records in relation to the location and condition of all ACMs on your premises
  • Assessing the risk presented by any ACMs identified on your site
  • Putting together a plan that clearly and comprehensively outlines how asbestos risks will be managed at the premises
  • Taking the steps required to implement the plan
  • Reviewing and monitoring the plan and the arrangements to act on it, so that it continues to be relevant and up to date
  • Providing details on the ACMs’ location and condition to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb such materials.

One of the key principles of CAR 2012 – unchanged from the situation with previous asbestos regulations – is that if existing ACMs are in good condition and are unlikely to be damaged, they can be left in place on site, on the basis that they will probably not pose a hazard to health.

While CAR 2012 puts in place a duty to manage asbestos, the focus is on taking the necessary practical steps to protect people who may conceivably be put at risk of asbestos exposure on the given premises. It is not, therefore, necessarily always about the actual removal of asbestos – although if asbestos removal does turn out to be needed, it should always be carried out by a specialist company that has been licensed by the HSE to undertake removal work.

Failure to follow this requirement is extremely serious; it is illegal for asbestos to be removed from a building by unlicensed and untrained individuals, and anyone who does this can be at risk of prosecution.

Would you like to learn more about the specialised services that Oracle Solutions can provide as accredited asbestos consultants in the UK? Contact us today, and we can go even further than that, providing you with appropriate advice on your situation, and giving you a fast and free quotation for any of our highly regarded asbestos services.