17 Apr 2015
April 17, 2015

Asbestos – The Hazardous Whitish Stuff

Asbestos use in the UK declined steeply from the 1970s, with all asbestos products outlawed from 1999.  However, the legacy of past asbestos use in industry and construction continues, and according to HSE, asbestos is by far the largest work-related hazard.  In this context, this serious hazard is being tackled by specific legislation through the Control of Asbestos Regulations and also via the more general CDM regulations.  Additional controls are also included in the waste regulations, and in particular rules governing hazardous wastes.  Although there is little specific guidance regarding asbestos in the ground, this is now being addressed with recent CIRIA publications.

The potential for asbestos in buildings has been recognised for some time, and detailed procedures are well known, including asbestos surveys prior to demolition.  However, it should not be forgotten that the Control of Asbestos Regulations (and legal liabilities) also apply to the land surrounding buildings.  Previous poor control of demolition materials, or waste disposal/fly-tipping on a site, can leave a legacy of asbestos materials on the surface or buried within a site.  At Crossfield Consulting, we include in our investigations sampling and testing for potential asbestos materials and provide risk assessments and solutions regarding asbestos in the ground.  Recently, we have successfully provided on-site and risk assessment services for a major construction project that involved a large excavation (over 15,000 m3) into an asbestos-containing landfill. We have also advised Clients regarding issues of asbestos occurring within crushed-concrete materials provided as “recovered waste”.

Where required, we have links with registered specialists and air-monitoring consultants. However, our routine role on most brownfield sites is to remain vigilant where general fill materials are present, to aid our Clients to fulfil their statutory health and safety duties and to provide value-engineered advice regarding materials control/remediation and waste controls.    Hazardous “Whitish Stuff” will continue to be encountered on sites for some time to come – does your project have a suitable strategy to deal with it?