Asbestos was heavily used as a building material in the UK from the 1950s up until the 1990s due to its durability, fire resistance, and insulation properties. However, overwhelming evidence emerged over decades linking asbestos exposure to serious illnesses like mesothelioma and lung cancer. This led to a UK-wide ban on all forms of asbestos by 1999.
Although asbestos use was discontinued over 20 years ago, it is still present in many older buildings across the country. When these ageing structures undergo renovation or demolition, the asbestos fibres get disturbed and released into the air. This puts workers, occupants, and the public at risk of exposure.
As a procurement or facilities management professional, you play a crucial role in ensuring any legacy asbestos present in your buildings is safely removed by qualified professionals. This protects your stakeholders, mitigates health hazards on your property, and avoids legal liabilities. Properly navigating asbestos remediation requires an understanding of asbestos risks, UK regulations, contractor selection, and oversight of removal projects.
This comprehensive asbestos removal guide for procurement professionals takes you through the key steps and considerations when planning and procuring asbestos removal services.
Understanding the Risks Associated with Asbestos
Asbestos poses a serious health risk when its fibres are released into the air and inhaled. In addition, improper removal resulting in contamination of sites poses environmental and legal risks. It is critical to appreciate these hazards when planning any remediation project.
All types of asbestos are categorized as Category 1 carcinogens by the World Health Organization. The three main types used in buildings are crocidolite, amosite and chrysotile. Exposure can lead to serious progressive diseases:
- Mesothelioma – Aggressive cancer arising in the pleura (lining of the lungs) with poor prognosis. Median survival time after diagnosis is only 9-12 months. Almost all cases are linked to asbestos exposure.
- Lung Cancer – Inhaled asbestos fibres increase the risk of lung cancer considerably. This risk increases dramatically for smokers exposed to asbestos.
- Asbestosis – Fibrotic scarring of lung tissue which impairs breathing over time, and can be fatal.
- Pleural Thickening – Build up of scar tissue around the lungs which restricts breathing.
There is usually a long lag time, averaging 20 to 30 years, between first asbestos exposure and diagnosis of any associated diseases. This underscores the importance of preventing contact in the first place.
Asbestos left in soil or surrounding areas due to improper removal can lead to:
- Contamination of water sources by runoff from asbestos waste
- Potential airborne spread of fibres when asbestos-laden soil is disturbed
- Public spaces like parks becoming hazardous due to pollution
This environmental harm can persist for years until costly remediation is undertaken.
Violations of asbestos regulations can lead to heavy fines and prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Civil claims for negligence, injury and wrongful death can also be brought against property owners and employers.
It is imperative to only hire licensed asbestos removal contractors and ensure full compliance. Any corners cut may lead to serious legal consequences down the road.
The UK Asbestos Regulatory Landscape
The UK has comprehensive legislation in place governing all aspects of asbestos removal to protect workers and the public. Understanding these regulations is key to any asbestos removal guide for procurement professionals exercise in this area:
- Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 – Covers identification, removal, disposal and management of asbestos containing materials (ACMs). Sets maximum asbestos fibre exposure limits. Requires asbestos surveys and management plans.
- Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 – Outlines asbestos removal requirements during construction, renovation and demolition projects. Requires asbestos surveys before any work.
- Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 – Classifies asbestos waste as hazardous waste. Sets out disposal procedures and documentation. Requires consignment notes for transport.
- The Licensing of Work with Asbestos Regulations 1983 – Prescribes licensing regime for contractors carrying out asbestos removal. Establishes the role of the Asbestos Licensing Unit.
Licensing and Certification
Any contractor wishing to undertake asbestos removal work in the UK must be licensed by the HSE Asbestos Licensing Unit. Licenses must be renewed annually.
In addition to the HSE license, asbestos removal contractors in the UK are required to possess certain memberships and certifications.
- Membership in an accredited asbestos removal industry trade association, such as the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA) or the Asbestos Control and Abatement Division (ACAD).
- Certification in asbestos management or asbestos surveying, such as the BOHS P402 certificate or the UKATA Asbestos Awareness certificate.
- Completion of relevant training courses, such as the UKATA Non-Licensed Work with Asbestos training.
Compliance with these requirements ensures that contractors have the necessary expertise and qualifications to safely and effectively handle asbestos removal projects.
Contractors who are members of accredited asbestos removal trade associations, such as ARCA or ACAD, have demonstrated their commitment to adhering to industry standards and best practices. Possessing certifications in asbestos management or surveying, such as the BOHS P402 or UKATA Asbestos Awareness certificate, further validates their expertise in handling asbestos-related projects. Additionally, completing training courses like the UKATA Non-Licensed Work with Asbestos training ensures contractors are equipped with the knowledge and skills to safely carry out asbestos removal tasks. By meeting these requirements, contractors can be trusted to effectively manage and remove asbestos while prioritizing the safety of both workers and the environment.
Compliance and Enforcement
The HSE and local authorities are responsible for enforcing asbestos regulations and can conduct unannounced inspections of removal sites.
Breaches will result in enforcement action including:
- Stopping unsafe work
- Fines of up to £20,000 per violation
- Prosecution for criminal offences
This strict oversight ensures asbestos removal is always carried out responsibly and safely. Non-compliance is dealt with harshly.
Identifying the Right Asbestos Removal Company
Once you understand the risks and regulations involved, thoughtful selection of a qualified, experienced asbestos remediation company is key to a successful project. Important criteria include:
Experience and Expertise
- Specifically experienced in the type of ACMs present e.g. asbestos insulation, asbestos cement, asbestos textured coatings
- Familiar with the scope of work required e.g. pipe insulation removal, asbestos roof replacement
- Appropriately trained and certified personnel who are up to date on best practices
- Invests in continuing education and development of team
- Specialises in asbestos remedation and removal work rather than treating it as a sideline
Reputation and Reviews
- Positive feedback and testimonials from past clients
- Reliable contractors recommended within your professional network
- Strong safety track record with few or no HSE violations
- Open about sharing previous projects and contractor safety history
Case Studies and References
- Can provide detailed case studies of previous similar projects
- Willing to share references from past clients you can contact
- Portfolio highlights expertise in the same type of asbestos removal work you require
- Well established business with steady licensing record
- Strong balance sheet with access to required equipment and capacity
- Adequate insurance covering liabilities arising from negligent work
Section 4: The Procurement Process
Procuring asbestos removal services requires going beyond a typical procurement. There are special considerations given the regulated nature of this work:
Develop a Clear Scope of Work
- Define the scope based on site surveys and your asbestos register
- Specify the exact ACMs being removed, and how they will be accessed
- Outline number of personnel required and projected timelines
- Set requirements for enclosures, signage, air monitoring etc.
Request Proposals from Qualified Contractors
- Use prequalification criteria to identify reputable companies
- Provide scope of work to shortlisted contractors for proposals
- Ask respondents to outline details like staffing, site prep, methods, waste disposal etc.
- Specify all required documentation like licensing, insurance, method statements
Evaluate Bids and Proposals
- Review bids against the project scope, methodology and timelines
- Verify all health and safety procedures and controls are covered
- Ensure all regulatory requirements are addressed
- Check licenses, insurance, financial strength and other qualification criteria
Contract Negotiation and Award
- Negotiate final pricing and contracted performance metrics
- Solidify scope of work, technical specifications and regulatory responsibilities
- Require 3rd party oversight and air monitoring at contractor expense
- Build in flexibility for variations and unforeseen issues
Asbestos Removal Guide for Procurement Professionals Ensuring Safety and Quality During Removal
After awarding the asbestos removal contract, remaining vigilant during the remediation process is imperative. Key aspects to focus on include:
Safety Protocols and Procedures
- Ensure the worksite and enclosures are secured with proper signage
- Confirm specialised PPE like respirators and disposable coveralls are used
- Validate that negative pressure air handling units are running correctly
- Check that air monitoring tests are conducted regularly
Monitoring and Oversight
- Have client representatives on-site during the project
- Require oversight by 3rd party asbestos analysts
- Review reports and data like air tests, smoke tests, waste consignment notes
- Address any concerns immediately and halt work if issues arise
Quality Assurance and Control
- Inspect the work against the original scope and methodology
- Verify any discovery of hidden ACMs not in original surveys is dealt with properly
- Confirm decontamination unit functioning and certification of clean areas after work
- Validate effectiveness using site inspections, photos and material audits
Seeing the removal process through to completion is key to safely eliminate the asbestos risks on site:
Waste Disposal and Documentation
- Review waste consignment notes for all disposed ACMs
- Confirm asbestos waste was only transported and deposited by licensed contractors
- Obtain required certification of clean-up and air clearance testing
Site Restoration and Rehabilitation
- Ensure temporary enclosures and decontamination facilities are removed
- Confirm site clean-up meets standards through air monitoring and inspections
- Verify warning signs and barriers are removed post-clearance
Final Reporting and Closure
- Review comprehensive project report detailing removal methodology, issues encountered, waste disposal documentation and air clearance certificates
- Update the asbestos register and management plan to record any works
- Share lessons learned for future removals
Asbestos removal guide for procurement professionals – Asbestos has left a painful legacy in the built environment across the UK due to its prior widespread use. Procurement and facilities management professionals bear responsibility for protecting their stakeholders by safely navigating its removal.
This requires understanding the risks, appreciating the regulatory environment, thoroughly vetting contractors, closely monitoring removal projects, and tying up all loose ends.
The ultimate goal is to eliminate exposure risks by extracting every trace of asbestos and preventing the improper release of hazardous fibres. This process requires diligence and care from start to finish.
By partnering with experienced, reputable asbestos removal companies and maintaining vigilance, procurement leaders can steer their organisations clear of the asbestos hazards of the past. The lives of occupants and workers hang in the balance. This asbestos removal guide for procurement professionals provides the knowledge needed to handle asbestos remediation safely and responsibly.
At Specialist Remediation Solutions, we are experts in safely removing asbestos from buildings across the UK. Our experienced and licensed contractors have successfully delivered hundreds of asbestos remediation projects while keeping stakeholders protected. If you need to procure asbestos removal services for your organisation, get in touch with us today.
We can provide a free, no obligation quote and project proposal tailored to your specific site and situation. Our team is ready to answer any questions you may have about navigating asbestos remediation as a facilities or procurement professional.
Don’t leave your property’s asbestos risks to chance. Contact Specialist Remediation Solutions now by calling 01234 567 890 or emailing email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is asbestos removal important for facilities managers?
Asbestos is a hazardous material that can cause serious illnesses if fibres are inhaled. Removing it from your buildings protects the health of occupants and workers. It also avoids legal liabilities.
What are the main asbestos regulations in the UK?
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 are the main ones covering identification, removal, management, disposal and contractor licensing.
Should I remove asbestos that looks in good condition?
Only if you need to. It is best to remove any identified asbestos during renovations or demolition. Even materials in good condition can release fibres when disturbed.
How do I find an approved asbestos removal contractor?
The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) maintains a public database of licensed asbestos removal contractors who can legally perform this work.
What questions should I ask potential contractors?
Ask about their experience, training procedures, safety record, insurance coverage, references, and approach to delivering the project safely.
What oversight is required during asbestos removal?
You should have your own personnel and third-party analysts on-site to monitor work, conduct air tests, and ensure compliance. We can recommend companies to you.
How is asbestos waste disposed of?
Asbestos is classified as hazardous waste and must be double-bagged, labelled, and transported by licensed carriers to approved disposal sites.
What happens after the asbestos is removed?
The site must be cleaned thoroughly and pass clearance air monitoring tests. All records pertaining to the removal must be kept.
When do I need to update my asbestos register?
Update it immediately after removal to record what asbestos has been taken out. Also update if any additional asbestos is discovered or remains.
Where can I learn more about asbestos removal?
The Health and Safety Executive website has comprehensive asbestos guidance. Industry bodies like ARCA are also a good resource.