What if asbestos removals go wrong?

 Asbestos removal is not an exact science and while the process has been continuously refined in the last 30 years since licensing was introduced things can still go wrong. For example:

  • Asbestos survey data can be missed by the surveyor
  • More asbestos can be found than previously indicated in the asbestos management plan
  • Asbestos containing materials (ASMs) can be disturbed accidentally by refurbishment operatives
  • ACMs can be accidentally dispersed during the removal process
  • Visual Inspections and/or air tests can fail requiring further remedial work, delaying hand-over of an area.

It is necessary therefore for procedures to be agreed and in place before maintenance or building work commences that can be implemented in the event of any of these eventualities. In fact, it is a legal requirement detailed in Regulation 15 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations.


All Licenced Asbestos Removal Contractors (LARCs) have such procedures which cover all the typical scenarios which could cause serious/imminent danger such as:

  • Fire inside and outside the asbestos enclosure
  • Accident/injury
  • Uncontrolled release of fibres
  • Respirator failure
  • Loss of power to enclosure
  • Loss of water supply to the decontamination unit
  • Spillage
  • Water pollution

·         The procedures should address the asbestos risks and allow for returning the situation safely.

We therefore recommend that the facilities manager should be involved in the drafting of the contract’s emergency plan at the lead-in phase. The emergency plan should also cover the asbestos survey phase – there are instances where intrusive works to sample materials have led to asbestos containing material being exposed that cannot easily or quickly be re-instated. The plan for the survey phase should include provision of a LARC and an analytical consultant to be on-call to attend within 2 hours. The same arrangements can then remain in place in case of an accidental disturbance of materials during the refurbishment works.

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