Asbestos is a silent killer. Responsible for over 5000 deaths yearly, inhaling these fibres can be fatal. This is why before any work is completed in an asbestos-containing environment, an asbestos risk assessment must be completed; a crucial part of asbestos awareness.
For more information on asbestos risk assessments, find the guidance you need in our comprehensive guide. We have answered the most important questions when it comes to asbestos risk assessments, including what they are, who can conduct them and what steps are included in the assessment process.
What is an Asbestos Risk Assessment?
Working on-site or on a new project often requires several risk assessments, no matter your industry. An asbestos risk assessment finds and details the necessary information on the present asbestos risk. It covers the precautions required for work to be carried out safely and efficiently. Similarly, it may contain advice on how to eliminate these risks entirely.
It is important to have a detailed asbestos risk assessment in place as the dangers of asbestos can be fatal, as we have mentioned. When disturbed, asbestos fibres are airborne for up to five days. When inhaled, it can cause long-term problems such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Who Can Carry Out an Asbestos Risk Assessment?
An employer must ensure that an adequate asbestos risk assessment is carried out on-site before any work begins. You can learn more about an employer’s responsibility regarding asbestos in our guide to Employer Responsibilities For Asbestos Training.
The risk assessment can be carried out by any competent person with adequate knowledge of the requirements of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It can be a member of the team, a third-party specialist, or someone involved with the site or premises with relevant asbestos training.
The competent person carrying out the asbestos risk assessment must;
- Understand the dangers of asbestos-containing materials.
- Be able to estimate the level of expected exposure level.
Asbestos Risk Assessment in 5 Steps
An asbestos risk assessment can be successfully carried out in five steps.
Step 1: Identification of Health Risks
The first step in an asbestos risk assessment is a visual inspection of the site. This is done to identify areas in which asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) may be present.
It should also include a review of the building’s or site documentation, including an asbestos survey and follow-up report. The report should detail the ACMs present, their condition and the likelihood of them being disturbed during the work planned to be carried out.
From this information, the health risks of the proposed work can be detailed. This may include the health risks of working with ACMs, risks posed by necessary equipment for the work and standard workplace hazards.
Step 2: Identification of Who is at Risk
Next, the asbestos risk assessment will identify who may be at risk during the proposed work. This could include both those working directly on the tasks on site and others in close proximity. An evaluation of the expected exposure levels must also be submitted with the inspection, including areas of the site where the risk may be higher.
If members of the public are also at risk in the findings of the assessment, then appropriate safety measures must also be proposed.
Step 3: Establishing Required Safety Measures
Often, it is impossible to eliminate the risk of asbestos-containing materials completely. Still, safety measures can be put in place to ensure work can be carried out as safely as possible. The goal is to reduce a person’s exposure to asbestos.
Possible safety measures that can be implemented include;
- Ventilation installed near the asbestos-containing material.
- Adequate PPE is provided for those in close contact with ACMs.
- Controlled wetting and enclosing in specific areas.
- Site confinement to prevent the spread of asbestos fibres.
As well as establishing safety measures, procedures for decontamination and disposal must also be put in place. Arrangements for disposal of ACMs must be arranged prior to removal work being carried out and should be completed by a dedicated contractor.
Step 4: Record of Assessment
Upon completing the asbestos risk assessment, a detailed record must be created highlighting significant findings. This is essential for teams with five or more employees. A copy of the assessment should always be available for the team to view.
Employees must be informed of the contents of the risk assessment and information on the risks they may face, precautions they must follow and what they should do in an emergency.
Step 5: Regularly Review the Risk Assessment
Finally, the asbestos risk assessment must be regularly reviewed after completion. It is vital to keep the document up-to-date and should include information on newly identified hazards. Advice on updated safety measures to combat health hazards should also be included and communicated to employees.
The risk assessment should also be reviewed every time a new staff member joins the team or in the event of a workplace accident.
Accredited Asbestos Training
Have you found the information you needed regarding asbestos risk assessments? We hope our guide has given you the advice and guidance to help you plan a reliable asbestos risk assessment for your site or project.
However, this is not the only health and safety measure you need in place for work to begin. You must also have trained professionals on-site if you require work to be completed in proximity to asbestos-containing materials.
Get your team the asbestos awareness online training they need from NATAS today, and find out how we can assist you with online and classroom training courses. Find out more about our asbestos awareness online courses and asbestos awareness classroom training available.