HSE Bidding to Reduce Asbestos Exposure in the Workplace

Reducing asbestos exposure in the workplace is a major thrust of a new awareness campaign launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Asbestos: Your Duty aims to improve understanding of what the legal duty to manage asbestos involves. Asbestos remains Britain's biggest workplace killer, with thousands of deaths every year attributed to exposure.

There are a wide range of buildings to which the legal duty to manage asbestos applies – including workplaces like offices and factories.

In each case, a dutyholder – the person who has a legal duty to manage asbestos in a building – will be required to protect those who work in their buildings and those who use them in other ways from the risks of exposure to asbestos.

Dutyholders could be building owners, landlords of the premises or any person or organisation with clear responsibility for the building's maintenance or repair.

Businesses and organisations that are responsible for premises built before the turn of the century – especially those constructed between 1950 and 1980 when the use of asbestos was at its peak – must carry out the necessary checks and understand their legal responsibilities, says the HSE.

When asbestos is properly contained there will not be a risk of exposure to workers or visitors, but the substance can become dangerous if it is damaged or disturbed.

To help provide guidance, the HSE has issued updated information, new templates – including an asbestos management plan template – and explanatory videos on its website, to help anyone who is unsure of their legal duties and what they need to do to comply with them.