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Asbestos in the workplace

Asbestos was extensively used as a building material in the UK from the 1950s through to the mid-1980s.

When asbestos fibres are inhaled they can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis.

The duty to manage asbestos in a workplace falls to the “dutyholder”. In many cases, the dutyholder is the person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises through an explicit agreement such as a tenancy agreement or contract. This may be the occupying business or the landlord.

The dutyholder must:

  • take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, its amount, where it is and what condition it is in
  • presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not
  • make, and keep up-to-date, a record of the location and condition of the asbestos containing materials – or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos
  • assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the materials identified
  • prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed
  • take the necessary steps to put the plan into action
  • periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements to act on it so that the plan remains relevant and up-to-date
  • provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them

Further details on asbestos in the workplace may be obtained from the Health and Safety Executive’s web site.

You may also use this form to help you complete your asbestos risk assessment.

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