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Does your asbestos removal work require a licensed contractor?

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Asbestos is a category 1 carcinogen that causes around 5,000 deaths a year in the UK, so a licensing regime exists to help protect those who work with it. As a result, some asbestos removal jobs can only be carried out by licensed contractors, who have the required expertise and equipment to complete the work safely.

Whether or not you are legally obliged to use a licensed contractor will depend on the amount of risk involved in the particular job. As a general rule, work on types of asbestos that have a risk of high fibre release when disturbed require a licensed contractor, as do jobs for which it is not possible for the risk assessment to demonstrate that the control limit for asbestos fibres in the air will not be exceeded.

You should always check whether or not your specific job requires a licensed contractor, but as a rule of thumb, removal of the following types of asbestos do:

  • Loose fill lagging insulation
  • Lagging and sprayed insulation
  • Asbestos insulation
  • Asbestos insulating board (AIB)
  • Asbestos coating
  • Loose asbestos dust and small pieces of debris

There are also a number of types of asbestos containing materials which must be treated as Notifiable Non-Licensed Work (NNLW) when they are removed. These include:

  • Asbestos paper, felt and cardboard products in a poor condition or not firmly bonded in a matrix
  • Textured decorative coatings that are in a bad condition or that require deterioration (such as gel or steam treatment) prior to removal
  • Asbestos cement in a poor condition or that will require substantial breakage during removal

Where NNLW is to be carried out, the relevant authority must be informed, a programme of medical examinations have to be undertaken for all staff involved and detailed records need to be kept. Due to this regime, the need to have the correct equipment and the desire to keep staff safe, many companies prefer to hire specialist asbestos contractors for NNLW jobs.

Some jobs are classified as non-licensed, such as removing asbestos cement sheets used for roofing, asbestos cement guttering and asbestos containing floor tiles, fuse boxes or duct connectors. However, anyone attempting this kind of work needs an in-depth knowledge of how to do the job safely, the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) and a legal way to dispose of the asbestos containing materials.

For more information and expert advice about the safe removal of asbestos, please contact BLS Asbestos.


Published: 17th September 2014