What is non-licensed asbestos removal?
At this point, most of us already know that asbestos is an incredibly dangerous and hazardous material. It’s also well known that, due to how widespread its use was in building materials throughout the 20th century, asbestos unfortunately still remains a major issue to this day. Perhaps the only thing the majority of people remain ignorant about is the scale of the issue: there are currently around 2,500 asbestos cancer-related deaths each year, according to government statistics.
Thankfully though, things are beginning to turn around.Although this figure has increased over the past half a century – generally due to asbestos exposure throughout the 1980s – it is expected to level out this decade and then begin its decline. This is the result of many years of hard work, not only in recognising the medical issues related to asbestos but also in attempts to remove the material as a threat. However, the work is not done.
The usage of the material in the post-war building industry was enormous, and it still remains in millions of homes, businesses and public buildings throughout the country. While some removal work will require a licensed contractor, others can be carried out without the need for a license.
An explanation of non-licensed asbestos work
Non-licensed asbestos removal is exactly what it sounds like. These are jobs related to asbestos which do not require the individual conducting the work to hold a license.
Considering just how dangerous asbestos exposure is, it may come as a surprise to learn that not all asbestos-related work requires a licensed contractor. However, the differences between what can and cannot be done without a license are distinctly limited, and there are very clear guidelines as to when asbestos removal requires a license.
So, what is non-licensed asbestos removal, and why does some work not require a license?
Whether a job requires a licensed expert or not all depends on the level of risk the Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) pose. Licensed contractors are, of course, qualified to deal with more high-risk scenarios which wouldn’t be safe for an ordinary member of the public. While asbestos is manageable, it requires knowledgeable professionals to do so in all but specific incidents where the risk is viewed as low enough to be exempt.
Types of work which are generally viewed as being safe enough to not require a license include; cleaning up small quantities of debris which contains ACM dust, drilling textured decorative coating for things such as fixtures and fitting installation, work related to asbestos cement products,sealing in work and encapsulation of materials that remain in good condition, as well as work related to an Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) door with asbestos fireproofing and short duration minor repair work to AIBs.
However, if any jobs are viewed as being too high a risk based on the control limits, they will require a license.
In what circumstances does asbestos not require licensed removal?
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have several criteria of which non-licensed asbestos work must adhere. For starters, the concentration of asbestos must be of low intensity and sporadic, and this is no guessing game. The asbestos in the air should not exceed 0.6/CM3, which is to be measured over a period of 10 minutes as part of a risk assessment. These checks are vital for maintaining the safety of everyone involved in the process of removing or managing asbestos, as are these conditions.
If the work does fall below those levels, it must also be carried out beneath a control limit of 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre of air. This is to be measured over a four-hour period. If the work fails to meet either of these criteria, then it will require a licensed contractor to complete the job.
Requirements for notifiable non-licensed work
For some types of non-licensed work, there are extra requirements. This is what is known as notifiable non-licensed asbestos work, and it means that employers must notify the relevant authority of the work, which may be their local authority or HSE depending on the type of premises.
They must also ensure that they are carrying out medical examinations, maintaining health records (registers of work) and identifying the areas in which the work is conducted. An example of this kind of work would be any situation where the materials have been substantially damaged.
Do note that both notifiable and regular non-licensed asbestos work both require a risk assessment to be carried out, with appropriate controls in place, alongside correct training to protect the workers and those around them.
If you have any queries about asbestos risk assessment and removal, then please visit our FAQ page for answers to common questions.