How Can You Protect Your Tenants from Asbestos?
If you were a commercial building manager, what would your reaction be if you found out you had a killer hidden in your building. You discover the killer has a lethal reputation – in fact he’s a mass murderer – and he’s very cunning because he knows how to hide behind the most innocent of disguises. If any of your tenants disturbs him in one of his hiding places, he’s more than likely to strike. So what is your course of action?
The Duty to Manage
Asbestos is a killer and it is still found in many buildings throughout the UK.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) points out that if you own or have responsibility for, or control of, a building, then you have a duty to manage asbestos.
The problem, though, is one of awareness. Gemma Victoria Voaden, Surveying Director at All Survey Ltd, specialising in asbestos surveys, comments on how there is an apparent lack of awareness of just how prevalent asbestos is in buildings.
“I have actually heard someone say that asbestos doesn’t exist anymore,” Gemma says. “I think there is a perception that it is somehow a problem from the past and no longer relevant.”
“Building managers need to be aware that they have a legal requirement to comply with asbestos legislation,” Gemma explains.
Although specific legislation has been in place since 2006, it is often only brought
to light after the fact, in those unfortunate situations where asbestos has caused serious, and terminal, illness.
Gemma’s Manchester-based company All Survey Ltd is beginning a campaign for a national asbestos register. The aim is to raise awareness of the issues around asbestos and to make it easier for building managers to take immediate action.
Asbestos causes a variety of diseases and it kills around 5,000 people a year in the UK. Whether the asbestos is blue, brown or white, it is potentially deadly.
“There is no safe kind of asbestos,” Gemma emphasises, “despite what some people may think. And it can be concealed in all sorts of places, from ceiling tiles to cupboard interiors. If damaged or disturbed, or removed without proper safeguards, the fibres can get into people’s lungs causing these horrendous illnesses.”
It is a legal requirement for asbestos surveys to be carried out, and there are stiff legal penalties for non-compliance.
All Survey Ltd thinks the best way forward is to co-ordinate efforts nationally to increase people’s awareness of asbestos and their own responsibilities.
“We want practical solutions that will help us protect people through our work,” Gemma states. “We are passionate about education. We’re saving time and money, but more importantly, lives.”