Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that has been a popular building material since the 1950s.
It is used as an insulator (to keep in heat and keep out the cold), has good fire safety properties and protects against corrosion.
If you own, occupy, manage or have responsibilities for non-domestic premises which may contain asbestos, or in case you are responsible for the non-private, i.e. common areas of domestic premises like hallways and elevators, you will either have a legal duty to manage the risks of this material, or a duty to co-operate with whomever manages that risk.
There are three main types of asbestos still found in premises.
These are generally called “blue asbestos” (crocidolite), “brown asbestos” (amosite) and “white asbestos” (chrysotile). All of them are dangerous carcinogens, but blue and brown asbestos are more hazardous than white. You cannot determine them just by their colour.
Because asbestos is often mixed with another material, it’s hard to know if you’re working with it or not. But, if you work in a building constructed in 2000 or earlier, it’s likely that some parts of the building will contain traces of asbestos.
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Asbestos is most commonly found in sprayed coating (fire safety on structural supports, for example columns and beams), pipe insulation, ceiling and door panels, windows panels, floor tiles, cement roof sheeting and textured decorative coating such as Artex. Be careful!