Asbestos is a hazardous material that has been used in buildings for centuries. The presence of asbestos in public buildings presents a serious health risk to employees, visitors and other occupants. In response to these dangers, the Asbestos Testing and Consultancy (ATaC) and the National Occupational Risk Assessment Council (NORAC) released a report detailing the risks associated with asbestos in public buildings. This article will examine the regulations and standards for asbestos in public buildings, the health risks that it poses, the findings of the ATaC and NORAC reports, and the future of asbestos in public buildings.
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Introduction to ATaC and NORAC
ATaC is a leading provider of asbestos testing and consultancy services for businesses and public buildings. The company provides a comprehensive range of services covering all aspects of asbestos management and control.
NORAC is an independent, non-profit organization that provides risk assessments and advice on occupational health and safety issues. The organization has been providing services to the UK Government since 1988 and is a leading authority on occupational health and safety.
Regulations and Standards for Asbestos in Public Buildings
The UK has strict regulations and standards in place to ensure that public buildings are safe and free from asbestos. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 is the primary legislation that governs the management and control of asbestos in public buildings. The regulations require employers to assess and manage the risks of exposure to asbestos in the workplace.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has also set standards for the safe use and management of asbestos in public buildings. These standards include guidelines on how to identify asbestos, how to reduce the risk of exposure, and how to safely remove and dispose of asbestos.
Health Risks of Asbestos
Asbestos is a hazardous material that is known to cause a variety of health problems, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Exposure to asbestos can cause serious and potentially fatal illnesses, including asbestosis and pleural thickening.
Asbestos is hazardous when it is disturbed or damaged, releasing microscopic fibers into the air that can be inhaled. It is important to be aware of the health risks associated with asbestos, and to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure.
Asbestos in Public Buildings
Asbestos was widely used in public buildings in the UK until the late 1980s. Asbestos was used as an insulating material in walls, ceilings, floors and other areas of public buildings. Although much of the asbestos has been removed from public buildings, there is still a risk of exposure in some older buildings.
It is important to be aware of the presence of asbestos in public buildings. Employers should undertake an asbestos survey to identify the location and type of asbestos in the building. They should also ensure that the building is managed in accordance with the relevant regulations and standards.
NORAC and ATAC Report
Last month, NORAC and ATAC made a bold statement when they presented their report to Parliament, with the backing of the Work and Pensions Select Committee Chair, Steven Timms MP.
The report brought to light a staggering statistic – 78% of the 128,761 buildings constructed before the 1999 asbestos ban contain the hazardous material, totaling 100,660 structures. This includes 7 out of 10 public buildings deemed a “high risk” to public health.
Moreover, the report uncovered that 24% of the damaged asbestos was in such a dire state that only a licensed specialist contractor could safely manage or remove it. The report also revealed the presence of 710,433 items of asbestos within these structures.
The report emphasized the importance for employers to conduct thorough risk assessments and to manage their buildings in compliance with regulations and standards. It also advised employers to regularly conduct asbestos surveys and to take necessary measures to maintain compliance with regulations and standards.
Remediation and Clean-up of Asbestos
The prompt remediation and cleanup of asbestos in public buildings is crucial. The removal process must adhere to established regulations and standards, with contaminated areas promptly cleaned.
Only a qualified and seasoned contractor should carry out the remediation and cleanup, possessing an in-depth understanding of the necessary regulations and standards. Adequate safety equipment must be utilised to guarantee the protection of both employees and visitors.
The Future of Asbestos in Public Buildings
The UK government has made a firm commitment to banning the use of asbestos in public buildings by 2028, in an effort to mitigate the health hazards posed by exposure to asbestos and safeguard the well-being of employees, visitors, and occupants of public buildings.
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