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Blog: What are the tell-tale signs of commercial asbestos?

Commercial asbestos surveyor

November 2018

Commercial asbestos – could it be present at my site?

If you’re concerned there may be asbestos present at your business premises, here are some tips as to how to confirm or discount its presence.
Remember – don’t go actively hunting down asbestos or disturbing surfaces and buildings in pursuit of the material – call in experts to support. However here are a few things to consider:

What’s the age of your commercial property?

Asbestos was used extensively during the 1930's and 50's by the construction industry. A voluntary industry ban came into effect in the 1960's outlawing the most dangerous type of asbestos. But it wasn’t completely banned from use in the UK until November 1999.

Even though the use of asbestos was reduced running up to 1999, it’s still sensible to consider that all properties built, extended or refurbished before this date could still contain asbestos.

Can you see any building materials that typically contained asbestos?

Asbestos was typically used to produce two common forms of building materials:

1. Asbestos fibro sheeting
Asbestos fibro sheeting was strong, fire retardant, and cost-effective to manufacture. It was popular with builders to use predominately to construct walls - similar to modern day plasterboard or drywall. The fibro sheets were simply nailed to a wooden framework.

Asbestos fibro sheets were particularly common in 1960's/1970's housing and can be found in ducting, panelling, ceiling tiles, bath panels etc. Asbestos may also be present in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints.

2. Asbestos cement
Asbestos cement was used in a large variety of walls, roofs and exterior linings in sheets. As well as an insulation and fireproofing aid, asbestos cement was used because it absorbed moisture and was effectively weatherproof.  Asbestos cement was used in eave linings, under exterior sections of roofs, in walls in garages, sheds, toilets and laundries. It was also used to create corrugated sheets, mouldings and claddings.

Commercial asbestos – your duty of care

Inhabitants of a building that contains asbestos materials are quite safe, but you have a duty of care as the property manager to:

1. Find out whether the property contains asbestos

2. Assess the risk

3. Develop a plan to manage that risk and act on it.

Failure to follow these guidelines can result in prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

IBW Ltd can support with all your commercial asbestos responsibilities. We provide independent, cost-effective asbestos management services – from asbestos surveys to asbestos removal.  We make our clients aware of any risks, providing reports that are easy to read, full of the facts and designed to address property compliance requirements. 

For more details contact us or call 0161 804 0922


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