Nicknamed “hidden killer”, asbestos is considered a very dangerous material to work with and it has been banned in the UK since 1999. Trouble is that since the late 70’s UK has imported tons of asbestos from Canada and it was used on over 3000 types of products, from floor tiles / roof tiles to insulation boards, doors, toilet cisterns and a variety of other products. It’s estimated that 90% of all the houses built before 2000 contain asbestos in one or more forms.
HSE website provides plenty of information on the subject and we recommend you to spend some time on their pages to understand the seriousness of the situation. About 5000 people lose their lives each year due to asbestos related health issues.
Also, search engines are your best friend when it comes to sourcing specialist information about asbestos, free and premium.
Whether you’re building new extensions, renovating existing spaces or demolishing unites, you should be aware that performing modifications to your house or to your client’s house(s) presents the risk of getting contaminated (carrying fibres on your clothes) with asbestos or breathing in asbestos (airborne fibres) when you visit the site and it’s the last thing you need when business is blooming and life treats you well. Even building new home extensions comes with a degree of a risk since the new structure walls requires in most cases that you take down some existing walls or build into the existing.
You should also think about the risk of asbestos even when it’s only the replacement of windows or doors framework. When in doubt, it’s always better to ask a professional in the industry.
Efficient regulations are in place to protect you and the public from this carcinogenic material and new methods to safely contain and remove it are developed every few years along with improved educational resources and easy to access trainings, so the risks tend to drop with time. For the time being tough, you must be aware of the dangers it presents particularly if you’re building new storeys or modifying lofts.
Here are the asbestos books we recommend on the subject; any responsible architect should take note of these, at least to know enough in order to reassure the clients if nothing more. As for the managers, it’s a must that they keep atop of the legislation and standards of health and safety.
Asbestos Removal Process, Kit, Bags and Mask.
You won’t be removing any asbestos yourself, there are specialists that deal with this aspect of the job. However, if you learn where asbestos can generally be found in houses built or renovated before 2000, you will be able to offer a guiding advice to your clients regarding the places where asbestos can be found before they take down or modify certain parts of their houses and also prove yourself a mindful professional who is looking for her / his clients’ best interest.
The book is more or less an easy to follow manual with little specialist information, making it an accessible explanation tool for your clients’ needs. Should you ever need to explain numbers, potential risks and what methodology is followed before modifications are implemented, this will come quite handy, it’s intentionally short (only 24 pages) and it’s a very low priced as well (a little over a fiver) for this reason. We’ve only used it twice but it was indeed a good informational material to have since most people tend to overreact when it comes to asbestos dangers. To us it was a good communication strategy with our clients more than anything else and it paid off.
Asbestos: The Survey Guide (2nd Edition, 2012)
This heavily illustrated publication replaces and expands on MDHS100, Surveying, sampling and assessment of asbestos-containing materials. The book covers competence and quality assurance and surveys, including: survey planning, carrying out surveys, the survey report and the duty holder’s use of the survey information.
Although not aimed at works for domestic premises, plenty of information will still apply. The book is released as an official material by the HSE with the mention that this is a guidance and it’s not mandatory to be followed but that if you do follow it, you will be doing enough to comply with the law.