Asbestos Management


Asbestos can cause concern but if properly managed asbestos containing materials (ACMs) can remain in the University's estate without creating a risk to health. This section explains how the University is managing asbestos in its properties and the safe procedures to follow.

 

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is the term used for a range of natural minerals.

The three main types of asbestos, commercially used are

•      blue (crocidolite);

•      brown (amosite);

•      white (chrysotile).

Why Do Buildings Contain Asbestos?

Asbestos-containing materials have had many uses.  Asbestos was extensively used as a building material in the UK from the 1950s through to the mid-1980s.  It was used for a variety of purposes and was ideal for fireproofing and insulation.  Since the 1970s the use of asbestos has been gradually reduced through the introduction of voluntary and formal bans and by 1999 the importation, supply and use of any form of asbestos-containing material was banned.

Where can Asbestos be found in the University?

Any building built before 2000 (houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals etc.) can contain asbestos.  Asbestos materials in good condition are safe unless asbestos fibres become airborne, which happens when materials are damaged.  Therefore the presence of asbestos- based materials, in sound condition and undisturbed, does not constitute a danger.  

Due to the age, nature and use of buildings at the University asbestos-containing material are located across the Estate. 

Examples of where asbestos can be found within the university include:

  • thermal insulation - on pipes and boilers
    • insulation boards - for fire protection, as thermal and acoustic insulation on walls, ceilings and structural steelwork
    • sprayed coatings - for fire protection on structural steelwork
    • ropes and yarns - as a sealing material or for filling gaps
      • asbestos cement - in wall claddings, partitions, roofing, or guttering. Laboratory equipment such as inside old equipment such as ovens, furnaces, and autoclaves; or as heat resistant mats.

Legal Compliance

  • What the Law Says

Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012, the University has a duty to manage asbestos-containing materials in its buildings.   

  • How Does the University comply with the Law?

The University undertakes the following measures to ensure manage asbestos across the University Estate.

  • Implementation of an Asbestos Management Plan

The University has in place an Asbestos Management Plan which outlines how asbestos is managed across the Estate.  This includes details of roles and responsibilities in relation to asbestos, arrangements for recording instances of asbestos, actions taken to manage asbestos, procedures for undertaking refurbishment and maintenance works, training and awareness requirements and emergency procedures. The Asbestos Management Plan is maintained by the Environmental Manager and is available from the Estates Directorate.

  • Maintaining a Record of Asbestos Across the Estate

The Estates Directorate maintains a record of all the known asbestos-containing materials in the building fabric of the University, including information on their location and condition.  This record is known as the asbestos register.   The asbestos register is the result of surveys undertaken by a competent asbestos surveyor.

The University asbestos register is now available online via Plan On.  Nominated Building Liaison Officers as well as relevant Estates staff, Student Plus personnel and contractors have been provided with access to the asbestos register.

  • Preventing the Release of Uncontrolled Fibres

To avoid the disturbance of asbestos-containing material any activity likely to disturb the building fabric must be completed in accordance with the University’s asbestos management procedures. These include requirements to:

  • Review the asbestos register in advance of maintenance/refurbishment works
  • Request additional sampling for Undertaking samples for materials
  • Review and recording the location of known asbestos across Estate
  • Undertake a ‘Refurbishment and Demolition survey’ prior to any refurbishment/ demolition works
  • Organise the safe removal of asbestos-containing material 
  • Identifying Asbestos

Where appropriate asbestos-containing material in the building fabric and equipment identified as containing asbestos will be marked with appropriate warning labels.   Individual departments are responsible for ensuring the identification and labeling of their own equipment. 

  • Work with Asbestos

Work on asbestos-containing material contained within the University Estate may only be carried out by contractors licensed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSENI). All works must be undertaken in accordance with the Controlled Asbestos Regulations (NI) 2012 and Approved Codes of Practice All arrangements for such work are coordinated by Estates Directorate.   

  • Training and Awareness

All University staff whose work may bring them into contact with asbestos are required to attend asbestos awareness training.  The training includes information on the properties of asbestos and its effects on health, the types, uses and likely occurrence of asbestos and asbestos materials in buildings and plant, the general procedures to deal with an emergency.

Asbestos register training is provided to those staff nominated by their Head of School / Director as having access to the University asbestos register. 

All asbestos training is co-ordinated by the Environmental Manager.

What Responsibilities to Staff and Students have in Relation to Asbestos?

Asbestos does not pose a risk when it is intact and in good condition. The risks from asbestos arise through inhaling airborne fibres. If fibres are not released from the material there is no risk to health. Asbestos-containing material that are in good condition and not damaged, or disturbed, are unlikely to release fibres. 

All staff and students therefore have a responsibility to make every effort to avoid disturbing or damaging any Asbestos-containing material by adhering to the following guidance notes:

Undertaking Maintenance Work including minor alterations:

Any work undertaken within a School/ Directorate which will alter or disturb the building fabric, including the installation of new equipment, should only be undertaken by the Estates Directorate and their authorised contractors.  This includes minor alterations such as hanging of pictures and shelving.

All work requests should be made through the Estates Directorate using the online Facilities Maintenance system - Plan On. 

Any work likely to affect asbestos materials which cannot be undertaken by or managed through the Estates Directorate should be carried out only after consultation, and in agreement with, the University Environmental Manager and any other relevant Estates Manager. 

Asbestos Register:

Heads of School and Directors should make themselves and nominated staff with access to the asbestos register aware of the presence and location of asbestos in their building.  Asbestos register training is available to all those staff with access to the asbestos register. 

To access the University’s Asbestos Register please CLICK HERE 

Purchasing New Equipment: 

Staff must ensure that any equipment or apparatus erected, installed, purchased or gifted on behalf of the School/ Directorate is free of asbestos material. 

Existing/Old Equipment:

The asbestos register relates only to the building fabric, it does not include asbestos in laboratory equipment, this is the responsibility of individual departments.

Head of Schools should ensure that the Schoolkeep records that show the location of such equipment, and the condition of the asbestos if possible. Asbestos that is damaged or in poor condition must be repaired by a licensed contractor, or the equipment should be disposed of intact as asbestos waste, through Estates Services. 

Records should be kept up to date or amended following disposal or relocation of equipment.

Suspect Asbestos Containing Materials:

The Environmental Manager should be immediately alerted if staff/ students come across material suspected to contain asbestos which is not included on the asbestos register.  No samples should be taken of the material.  The Environmental Manger will arrange for this to be undertaken by a competent asbestos surveyor.

Damaged Asbestos Containing Materials:

Damaged asbestos-containing material pose a risk to health. The Environmental Manager should be immediately alerted if staff/ students come across damaged material suspected/known to contain asbestos.  

Further information:

For further information or queries relating to the management of asbestos at the University please contact:

Sara Lynch

Environmental Manager

Ext.1198

s.lynch@qub.ac.uk