Advice and Opinion

Asbestos inventory deadline looms for building owners

Building owners are under pressure to comply with the Asbestos Abatement Regulations 2020. Registered asbestos contractor, Indawo, highlights the key requirements in the regulations to explain how to ensure compliance.

Is your building safe from the effects of deteriorating asbestos and do you comply with the regulations?” asks Geoffrey Jäck, Indawo Managing Director. “The initial requirement is an assessment to identify asbestos and to document this in an inventory. This needs to be done by May 2022”.

If asbestos is identified, then an asbestos risk assessment must be done by a competent person and at intervals not exceeding 24 months thereafter.

An asbestos risk assessment must include a risk categorisation to determine if the asbestos is safe or needs replacement, based on the health impacts of asbestos, the number of people potentially exposed, the potential for damage or disturbance of asbestos, potential incidents and normal activities and the condition of the asbestos.

It also needs to include the assessed risk of exposure to employees and others, potential contamination of air, ground, and water, controls to reduce exposure, if any environmental air monitoring required, if the exposure risk is high – an occupational medical practitioner is required, potential decontamination of employees and site workers, transportation, and disposal as well as emergency procedures.

The regulations state that a competent person must identify asbestos-containing materials. Where it is unclear, a sample must be sent to an approved inspection authority. Jäck recommends that due to the dangers of asbestos dust, samples should be taken by a registered asbestos contractor who needs to note the date of when the material was identified, a description of material and the extent of deterioration, the location of the material on the floor plan, the labels and signage required, the risk categorisation derived from the risk assessment, the description of potential exposure with recommended control procedures, and the planned removal or repairs.

The inventory must be updated every 2 years or, where new asbestos is identified or asbestos has deteriorated or is removed, damaged, sealed or encapsulated, then earlier.

Jäck says that the inventory must be available before removal or repairs commence, given to the contractor and approved inspection authority, and provided to the new owner of the premises if the property is transferred.

An approved inspection authority must review and endorse the inventory and asbestos risk assessment every 6 years.

Jäck recommends that building owners consult with a registered asbestos contractor who will appoint an approved inspection authority and health and safety officer to assist with the drafting of a risk assessment and asbestos inventory.