Asbestos in Construction

People working in construction, demolition or building maintenance may still be at a high risk of asbestos exposure. If the workers are likely to be moving or disturbing the asbestos containing materials, they will undoubtedly put themselves at greater risk of developing an asbestos related disease.

Where will I find asbestos in a building?

In a building, asbestos may be typically found in:

  • Toilet cisterns
  • Walls (often as insulation in wall partitions)
  • Floor tiles
  • Thermal insulation in boilers
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Doors
  • Thermal insulation on pipework for heating systems
  • Roof guttering
  • Water and sewage pipes
  • Valves, gaskets and flanges
  • Ventilation ducts
  • Guttering, cladding or soffits
  • Water and sewage pipes
  • Acoustic plaster
  • Adhesives
  • Cement pipes
  • Cement siding
  • Fire blankets, fire curtains and fire doors
  • Ducting
  • Decorative plaster
  • Electrical cloth and electrical wiring
  • Fireproofing materials
  • Packing materials
  • Roofing felt, roofing shingles and roofing insulation
  • Thermal paper products
  • Vinyl sheet flooring

It is likely that houses built before 1980 will contain asbestos but, it is recommended that when buying a house or other building built before the year 2000 a survey is conducted to find out if it was built using asbestos containing materials. This is because asbestos was not fully banned in the UK until 1999 and it still remains the greatest cause of work related deaths in the UK.

What trades are still at risk of working with asbestos?

There are a number of trades still at risk of encountering asbestos including:

  • Cleaners
  • Roofers
  • Plumbers
  • Joiners
  • Shop fitters
  • Carpet fitters
  • Electricians
  • Heating engineers
  • General maintenance staff

It is important that if asbestos is present in a building where any of these people might be working, the necessary steps are taken to ensure that they are not exposed to it. This can be done by assessing the risk of asbestos in a building, detailed planning on how asbestos containing materials will be handled and who will handle them, keeping up to date records of asbestos locations in a building and ensuring all staff are made aware of these records.

What is crucial is that any contractor or designer in the construction industry knows about any materials containing asbestos in the building they will be working on. It is necessary to find out:

  • The amount of asbestos that a building contains
  • Where the asbestos is located
  • The condition that the asbestos is in
  • Whether work on the building is likely to disturb the asbestos
  • Whether the asbestos containing materials will need to be removed

If these steps are taken any workers in the construction sector who might come into contact with asbestos are much more likely to be put in a safer position.