Following the initial industry regulation of 1931 that outlawed the use of asbestos, further stringent global regulations have been put in place, as can only be expected for such a harmful substance.

John Rodgman

John Rodgman

This includes Directive 2009/148/EC – exposure to asbestos at work, which was established by the EU in order to protect workers’ health from the risks associated with asbestos exposure.

More recently, the Health and Safety Executive established the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 to place increasingly watertight regulations on any work being carried out that may involve asbestos.

When engaging in asbestos contamination testing, the contractor must first carry out a five-step preliminary risk assessment (PRA).

This PRA is detailed below:

  • Step 1: The context and objectives of the risk assessment must be clearly defined
  • Step 2: The broad characteristics of the site, as well as the scope of the conceptual model, must be determined
  • Step 3: All asbestos-related information (pathways and receptors, for example) must be identified and collected
  • Step 4a: Asbestos is identified as a major contaminant of concern (CoC)
  • Step 5a: Reconnaissance is conducted in relation to asbestos, after which an exposure estimation must be carried out
  • Step 4b: An alternative fourth step, in which asbestos is not identified as being a major CoC
  • Step 5b: An alternative fifth step (following 4b), in which reconnaissance visits are carried out in relation to other CoCs. If no asbestos is encountered therein, no further action in relation to asbestos is required

If it is ever proved that adequate contamination testing was not carried out by a developer, and it is discovered that a major CoC (such as asbestos) was present, both the legal and the financial consequences would be enormous.

This, paired with the duty to protect others from such a hazardous substance, proves how thorough contractors must be in dealing with the potential risk.

John Rodgman is managing director of Borehole Solutions