Under Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 commercial clients have a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees and any persons who visit their premises or may be affected by work done on their premises.
Also, property owners and managers have a legal responsibility, under the Control of Asbestos Regulation 2012 (CAR 2012), to manage asbestos in the workplace. It requires the dutyholders to identify the location and condition of asbestos in the workplace and to manage the risk to prevent harm to anyone who works on the building or to building occupants.
Additional responsibilities are placed on clients by virtue of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015), they require clients to make suitable arrangements for managing a project, and maintaining and reviewing these arrangements throughout.
When asbestos removal is required, clients, who are at the head of the procurement chain, can set the standards on how the asbestos removal project is to be delivered. They are also in a position to make arrangements to check that those they are depending on to deliver the project are doing what they need to do to manage health and safety.
The law therefore requires that clients make suitable arrangements for managing a project, and maintaining and reviewing these arrangements throughout the project, so the project is carried out in a way that manages the health and safety risks.
Clients are not expected to be ‘experts’ in either construction work or asbestos work, and do not need to directly manage or supervise the work themselves. However, they are responsible for ensuring appropriate arrangements are in place to manage and organise projects during both the ‘pre-construction’ and ‘construction’ phases of the project.
This means clients need to appoint suitably competent people, therefore they need to make reasonable enquiries to satisfy themselves that contractors are appropriately resourced and competent for the work.
The first port of call for professional asbestos removal contractor is ARCA. The Association has strict conditions of membership, where by members need to demonstrate high standards of workmanship and health & safety management, and their performance is monitored to ensure high standards are maintained as they are independently audited on-site at least twice a year.
January 2017 sees ARCA enhance its audit scheme to take a further step towards supporting consistent high standards. Members still need to complete two satisfactory site audits every year, however, ARCA audits are now unannounced. Therefore, providing an even stronger system of reassurance for all parties, including end-clients.
Also, an analyst must be appointed for licensed asbestos work to verify that a work area has been thoroughly cleaned prior to handover for reoccupation or demolition etc.
With a well communicated structured approach to asbestos management, clients can ensure that they meet the challenge to comply with health and safety regulations.
As the client you may be the property owner, facilities manager, estates manager or asbestos manager - to support you the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association has published guidance which is available as a free download - Guidance on Clients Responsibilities on appointing Asbestos Contractors
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