Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Asbestos - Will new amended legislation result in higher removal costs?

Guest article from Joe Malone BSc(Hons) ICIOB
Group Investment Programme Manager - WM Housing Group

There are already noises coming from the industry that costs are set to increase but in real terms, how should these changes affect the client? Are we now going to see a massive increase in asbestos removal costs? The potential is there but so long as clients have an awareness of the product then rising costs should be contained.

I have very recently written an asbestos management plan, which was an incredibly complex and lengthy piece of work requiring a great deal of research. If I may, I would like to share some of the key issues uncovered in the process of writing this document. I’ve split the article into two parts, part one will deal with legislative changes whilst part two (which will be published in a few weeks) will deal with competency and product awareness.

Part One

Recent Changes to legislation
Source: Google Images
Actually, a not so recent change in legislation is the move from MDHS100 to HSG264 Asbestos: The survey Guide. HSG264 replaces and expands upon MDHS 100 yet despite being around for a couple of years now I am convinced that the vast majority still do not understand its implications. We have seen the obvious changes in terminology introduced so, the Type 1 and 2 survey are now replaced with the ‘Management Survey’ and the Type 3 survey is replaced with ‘Refurbishment and Demolition Survey’ (RAD).

Competence is a key issue that will be discussed in part two but HSG264 also  defines the wider obligations and provides guidance in situations where surveys may be carried out for other purposes, e.g.,  for ‘managing’ asbestos in domestic premises under wider health and safety legislation and for meeting the requirements of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM). It compliments and supports other guidance on managing asbestos and details the asbestos survey requirements and best practice. It is important to note that prosecutions for asbestos related offences are generally brought under the Sections 2, 3 or 4 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 or the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

The document also establishes the levels of survey compliance that should be achieved by registered providers and establishes parameters for collecting housing related data and this is one of the more poorly understood areas. There is an old chestnut kicking around that dictates that housing providers must survey 10% of their stock but this was never a legal requirement. What you must do is carry out a desktop evaluation of the stock to assess the commonality of the stock. Similar properties based upon design, construction and age should be placed into archetypal groups for further consideration. Once you reach this point you should then undertake sufficient RAD inspections to ensure that variability in asbestos use has been established across all archetypes. ‘Sufficient’ will in my considered opinion mean a minimum of one RAD survey per property archetype.

Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

Source: Google Images
The '2012' bit of the heading should tell you that there have been some very recent changes to this particular legislation but why?  The ugly truth is that the asbestos industry has been lobbying for these changes for a number of years. Some years back textured coatings were downgraded in risk and became a 'non-notifiable' product. The asbestos industry have been trying to recoup massive losses incurred as a result of that decision for some time and what you'll find within COA 2012 is that some types of non-licensed work have now become notifiable.  There are already noises coming from the industry that costs are set to increase  (Click here for news article),  but in real terms, how should these changes affect the client? Are we now going to see a massive increase in asbestos removal costs? The potential is there but so long as clients have an awareness of the product then rising costs should be contained. Granted, the industry will receive more work in being awarded this newly notifiable work because many non-licensed contractors will not want the additional burden of responsibility, however minor, but the major concern has to be that costs will increase for removing product that was previously regarded as non-notifiable and therefore low risk.

It is a fact that notifiable product costs more money to remove than non-notifiable product and the illustration above highlights some of the additional safeguards and management procedures required for removing notifiable product. However, the HSE guidance for removing these products has not to my knowledge changed and there are no plans to change this guidance, therefore the control measures on site remain the same and should not cost more money. You can review HSE guidance on working with asbestos by following this link. As always, you need good knowledge of the product and the removal guidelines to ensure costs are controlled. Factually, the only immediate change for notification of non-licensed products is a requirement that brief written records are kept, this was not a previous requirement but should incur nothing more than negligible costs. From 2015 non-licensed workers need to have regular health surveillance by a Doctor,  criteria that currently applies to licensed workers.

Joe Malone BSc(Hons) ICIOB
Group Investment Programme Manager

Information/opinions posted on this site are the personal views of the author and should not be relied upon by any person or any third party without first seeking further professional advice. Also, please scroll down and read the copyright notice at the end of the blog.



  1. Thanks for the effort you go through by posting these blog. But usually Asbestos Removal in Phoenix say, "asbestos is not that much of a danger as long as you know where it is and how to threat it". Not much of a danger just because you have it inside your house.

    1. You may have missed the point slightly, the article isn't about the dangers of asbestos it is about whether amended legislation costs will affect the cost of removal.

      Joe Malone

  2. It's definitely better to err on the side of caution when it comes to construction site safety measures. This is why quarterly or even monthly safety meetings are essential to improving workplace safety and address dangerous things like asbestos.