Asbestos is a mineral fibre that was used for many years due to its strength and resistance to heat and oil.

Asbestos is most likely to be found in buildings that were constructed or refurbished between 1950 and 1980.

Asbestos can be found in many forms and the main types tend to be either soft or hard asbestos.  Soft asbestos is a fibrous insulating material and may still be found in older properties as pipe lagging, insulating board, ceiling tiles, internal walls and panels.  Hard asbestos is much more common.  This hard solid sheet material was used extensively for shed roofs and garages, other asbestos cement products, ironing board mats and to provide insulation around fires or others heat sources.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre. There are three main types:

  • Chrysotile (also known as ‘white asbestos’)
  • Amosite (also known as ‘brown asbestos’)
  • Crocidolite (also known as ‘blue asbestos’)

The import, use and re-use of asbestos products within the UK has now been banned by law, except in a very limited number of specified processes. However, vast quantities of asbestos were used in buildings in the past. Much of this material is still there and cannot easily be identified by its appearance.  Asbestos can be hazardous to health if handled incorrectly

If you suspect that you have asbestos materials in your home, extra care should be taken when doing DIY.

DO NOT attempt work on sprayed asbestos, lagging or insulating boards, as this must be undertaken by a licensed asbestos removal contractor. If in doubt, seek advice.

Do not drill, cut or disturb asbestos unless absolutely necessary. Do not scrape or sand asbestos materials before painting and decorating. Some types of asbestos materials are very soft and can release large numbers of fibres if rubbed or scraped.

The Duty to Manage Asbestos

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 introduced an explicit duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises.

The duty to manage requires those in control of premises to: 

  • take reasonable steps to determine the location and condition of materials likely to contain asbestos; 
  • presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not; 
  • make and keep an up to date record of the location and condition of the asbestos containing materials (ACMs) or presumed ACMs in the premises; 
  • assess the risk of the likelihood of anyone being exposed to fibres from these materials; 
  • prepare a plan setting out how the risks from the materials are to be managed; 
  • take the necessary steps to put the plan into action; 
  • review and monitor the plan periodically; and
  • provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.

Even if you feel that you have no asbestos in your properties or that you are not a “duty holder” you will need to show evidence that you have carried out some or all of the above steps in order to demonstrate full understanding and compliance.

Remember, the legal duty is about managing any asbestos in a building, not about removing all asbestos.

West Somerset Council provides advice and information on the safe handling of asbestos related products and offer advice in relation to construction issues.

Asbestos Disposal

Somerset Waste Partnership provide information regarding the disposal of asbestos, please see the Somerset Waste Partnership website

Health and Safety Executive

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have more information about asbestos, please see the HSE website