If you are responsible for managing non-domestic premises, you have a legal requirement to identify and manage the risk from any asbestos that is liable to be present in your building. This is to prevent staff, contractors and visitors being exposed to airborne asbestos fibres.

How to take this module

To take this module read the technical article below and click through to a multiple-choice questionnaire, once taken you will receive your results and if you successfully pass you will be issued automatically with a certificate to print for your records.

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Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 places a requirement on dutyholders to undertake a suitable and sufficient assessment on whether asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are likely to be present in their premises. The dutyholder is either the owner or occupier responsible for the repair or maintenance of non-domestic premises by virtue of a tenancy or contract, or, where there is no tenancy or contract, the person who is in control of the premises. Often this will be the owner, but in some circumstances, such as in the case of multi-occupied buildings, the responsibility may be shared.

Asbestos workers

The owner may take responsibility for the common areas while the leaseholders take responsibility for the parts they occupy. In some cases, the responsibility may pass to the managing agent appointed to look after the property.

This duty to manage applies to all non-domestic premises and the common parts of domestic premises. Examples of common parts are boiler rooms, lift shafts, staircases, foyers, corridors, external elements and so on.
It should be noted that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) approved code of practice on the management of asbestos in non-domestic premises, which provides practical guidance on the regulation, is currently being reviewed as part of a wider consultation on HSE guidance.


Appoint a responsible person

To properly manage ACMs in premises, a responsible person should be appointed. The responsible person should have appropriate training, skills and resources to ensure that they can carry out the task of managing the asbestos risk.

Determine if ACMs are present Initially the dutyholder should determine if there are likely to be any ACMs on the premises and, if so, where they are likely to be. This involves reviewing the age of the building, records for the building including architects’ plans, records of previous asbestos removal works and any previous surveys of the building.

If there is clear evidence that no ACMs are present (for example, the building was constructed without using ACMs or there were ACMs present but records show that they have all been satisfactorily removed) then this should be recorded as proof of compliance with the regulation.

If it is unclear whether ACMs are present or not, the dutyholder should presume that they are present until proven otherwise. This will involve informing people of this finding and making sure that no work is undertaken
that will disturb the fabric of the building until the presence or absence of ACMs has been determined.

The task of determining whether ACMs are present is often delegated to a third party with appropriate training and experience. Guidance on asbestos surveying can be found in HSE publication HSG264 Asbestos: The survey guide, which is aimed at surveyors carrying out asbestos surveys as well as those who commission surveys, such as dutyholders or clients.

The dutyholder has a responsibility to ensure that whoever is instructed to undertake the survey is competent to do so, has adequate expertise, knowledge and resources and has appropriate insurance cover for undertaking asbestos surveys. The HSE strongly recommends the use of accredited surveyors for undertaking asbestos surveys — for example, organisations that are accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Scheme (UKAS).

Keep a record

Once an asbestos management survey has been carried out, the dutyholder should use the results of this to prepare an asbestos register for the premises. An asbestos register is a simple record of the ACMs identified or presumed to be on site. Details required include:

  • Location
  • Asbestos type
  • ACM product type
  • Condition of ACM
  • Quantity of ACM
  • Material assessment

The information can be provided in a number of ways, including hard copy, electronic format or alternatively via access to an electronic database. However, the record must be kept up to date and must be available so that it
can be viewed by anyone who needs to know the locations of the ACMs — for example, site staff, maintenance staff and contractors.

Assess risk

The dutyholder should use the information in the asbestos register to help assess the risk from the ACMs identified on the premises. This assessment will be a combination of a material assessment and a priority assessment.

The material assessment determines the likelihood of fibres being released from an ACM and therefore the risk of the material. It should be undertaken by the surveyor as part of an asbestos management survey. The priority assessment considers the likelihood of someone disturbing an ACM. It is the responsibility of the dutyholder to undertake the priority assessment, as it requires a detailed knowledge of the premises. This combination risk assessment is used to make decisions about how the risks will be managed and will form the basis of an asbestos management plan.


An asbestos management plan is a legal requirement for all workplaces liable to contain asbestos. It sets out what is going to be done, over what timescales and the methods to be used to manage any ACMs. It also needs to ensure that there are clear lines of communication and that all relevant staff are sufficiently trained. The key issues that the plan needs to address are as follows.

Decisions about management options

Within the management plan, each ACM will be treated individually and a decision made over what management action will be required. Depending upon the results produced from the risk assessment, one or more of the following options will be selected for each ACM:

  • Label the material
  • Colour-code the material
  • Protect/enclose the material
  • Seal/encapsulate the material
  • Repair the material
  • Remove the material

All work with ACMs must be carried out in compliance with the provisions of the Control of Asbestos Regulations and, depending upon the nature of the work, may require a licensed contractor and/or notification to the enforcing authority.


The management plan should contain target timescales in which the management actions should be completed. These will be set based on the priority and material risk assessments.

Monitoring arrangements

To reduce the risk of exposure, the dutyholder must be sure that all building materials liable to contain asbestos are kept in reasonable condition. The asbestos management plan must contain monitoring arrangements for the regular inspection of any ACMs. This should usually be conducted annually or more frequently if there is reason to suspect that materials may have deteriorated or have become damaged.


Asbestos workers

The dutyholder will need to include information regarding the training arrangements for employees and for ensuring that any contractors carrying out work on the fabric of the building are suitably trained and competent.
Asbestos awareness training should be sufficient for most employees who could foreseeably expose themselves to asbestos. This will provide an understanding of the types, uses and likely occurrence of ACMs in a building, show how the risks from asbestos can be avoided, and the actions that should be taken in an emergency.

More specialised training will be needed for anyone carrying out licensable or non-licensable work (including notifiable non-licensed work) with ACMs.

Mechanisms for passing on information

Information concerning the location and the condition of ACMs must be passed on to any employees and contractors who are liable to come into contact with or disturb asbestos. Set processes for the communication of this information should be laid out in the plan.

Plans for controlling work and implementing new procedures

Systems and procedures must be put in place to control any building or maintenance work on site and ensure that workers are not unknowingly exposed to airborne asbestos fibres. A formal, written system of work incorporating permit-to-work may be required. This would allow better control of work on the fabric of the building and make clear exactly where any activity is being carried out.

Procedures for review of the management plan

The management plan should be reviewed regularly, to monitor the effectiveness of any set processes and procedures and measure progress against any set timescales. Consider how effective the plan has been in terms of:

  • Preventing exposure
  • Highlighting the management actions required to deal with any ACMs
  • Managing and controlling maintenance workers and contractors
  • Raising awareness

As the dutyholder, you will also need to critically assess any situations where procedures have failed to be implemented correctly or where exposure to asbestos fibres has occurred.

The HSE recommends reviewing the plan thoroughly every six months. The plan may also need to be reviewed following changes to organisational structure, resources, company procedures, refurbishment or changes in the use or occupancy of the building.


  • Approved Code of Practice L127: The management of asbestos in non-domestic premises
  • Approved Code of Practice L143: Work with materials containing asbestos
  • HSG227: A comprehensive guide to managing asbestos in premises (HSE Books 2002)
  • INDG223 (rev 5): Managing asbestos in buildings: A brief guide (HSE Books 2012)
  • HSG264 Asbestos: The survey guide (HSE Books 2012)

How to take this module
To take this module read the technical article below and click through to a multiple-choice questionnaire, once taken you will receive your results and if you successfully pass you will be issued automatically with a certificate to print for your records.

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