Legislation

Control of Asbestos (CAR) 2012

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 came into force on 6 April 2012, updating previous asbestos regulations to take account of the European Commission's view that the UK had not fully implemented the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos (Directive 2009/148/EC).

In practice the changes are fairly limited. They mean that some types of non-licensed work with asbestos now have additional requirements, i.e. notification of work, medical surveillance and record keeping. All other requirements remain unchanged.

What has stayed the same?

If existing asbestos containing materials are in good condition and are not likely to be damaged, they may be left in place; their condition monitored and managed to ensure they are not disturbed.

If you're responsible for maintenance of non-domestic premises, you have a 'duty to manage' the asbestos in them, to protect anyone using or working in the premises from the risks to health that exposure to asbestos causes.

If you want to do any building or maintenance work in premises, or on plant or equipment that might contain asbestos, you need to identify where it is and its type and condition; assess the risks, and manage and control these risks.

The requirements for licensed work remain the same: in the majority of cases, work with asbestos needs to be done by a licensed contractor. This work includes most asbestos removal, all work with sprayed asbestos coatings and asbestos lagging and most work with asbestos insulation and asbestos insulating board (AIB).

If you are carrying out non-licensed asbestos work, this still requires effective controls.

The control limit for asbestos is 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre of air (0.1 f/cm3). The control limit is not a 'safe' level and exposure from work activities involving asbestos must be reduced to as far below the control limit as possible.

Training is mandatory for anyone liable to be exposed to asbestos fibres at work. This includes maintenance workers and others who may come into contact with or disturb asbestos (e.g. cable installers), as well as those involved in asbestos removal work.

What has changed?

From 6 April 2012, some non-licensed work needs to be notified to the relevant enforcing authority.

From 6 April 2012, brief written records should be kept of non-licensed work, which has to be notified e.g. copy of the notification with a list of workers on the job, plus the level of likely exposure of those workers to asbestos. This does not require air monitoring on every job, if an estimate of degree of exposure can be made based on experience of similar past tasks or published guidance.

By April 2015, all workers/self employed doing notifiable non-licensed work with asbestos must be under health surveillance by a Doctor. Workers who are already under health surveillance for licensed work need not have another medical examination for non-licensed work. BUT medicals for notifiable non-licensed work are not acceptable for those doing licensed work.


Some modernisation of language and changes to reflect other legislation, e.g. the prohibition section has been removed, as the prohibition of supply and use of asbestos is now covered by REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulations 2006)

The Duty to Manage Asbestos

What is the duty?

The duty to manage asbestos is contained in regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It requires the person who has the duty (i.e. the "duty holder") to:
• 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; and
• provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.

There is also a requirement on anyone to co-operate as far as is necessary to allow the duty holder to comply with the above requirements.

Who has the duty?

In many cases, the duty holder 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.

The extent of the duty will depend on the nature of that agreement. In a building occupied by one leaseholder, the agreement might be for either the owner or leaseholder to take on the full duty for the whole building; or it might be to share the duty. In a multi-occupied building, the agreement might be that the owner takes on the full duty for the whole building. Or it might be that the duty is shared - for example, the owner takes responsibility for the common parts while the leaseholders take responsibility for the parts they occupy. Sometimes, there might be an agreement to pass the responsibilities to a managing agent.

In some cases, there may be no tenancy agreement or contract. Or, if there is, it may not specify who has responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises. In these cases, or where the premises are unoccupied, the duty is placed on whoever has control of the premises, or part of the premises. Often this will be the owner.

What premises are affected?

The duty to manage covers all non-domestic premises. Such premises include all industrial, commercial or public buildings such as factories, warehouses, offices, shops, hospitals and schools.

Non-domestic premises also include those 'common' areas of certain domestic premises: purpose-built flats or houses converted into flats. The common areas of such domestic premises might include foyers, corridors, lifts and lift-shafts, staircases, roof spaces, gardens, yards, outhouses and garages - but would not include the flat itself. Such common areas would not include rooms within a private residence that are shared by more than one household such as bathrooms, kitchens etc in shared houses and communal dining rooms and lounges in sheltered accommodation.

How do duty holders comply?

There are three essential steps:

  1. Find out whether the premise contains asbestos, and, if so, where it is and what condition it is in. If in doubt, materials must be presumed to contain asbestos.
  2. Assess the risk.
  3. Make a plan to manage that risk and act on it.

Here are some basic principles to remember:

  • Asbestos is only dangerous when disturbed. If it is safely managed and contained, it doesn't present a health hazard.
  • Don't remove asbestos unnecessarily - removing it can be more dangerous than leaving it in place and managing it;
  • Not all asbestos materials present the same risk. The measures that need to be taken for controlling the risks from materials such as pipe insulation are different from those needed in relation to asbestos cement;
  • Remember that the duty to manage is all about putting in place the practical steps necessary to protect maintenance workers and others from the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres. It is not about removing all asbestos.
  • If any ACMs need to be sealed, encapsulated or removed, remember you will need to employ a licensed contractor if the materials are high risk (e.g. pipe insulation and asbestos insulating panels). If the materials are lower risk (e.g. asbestos cement) then an unlicensed but competent contractor may carry out this work.