• This article looks at issues arising when working with building contractors and asbestos and dealing with the demolition of old buildings or the construction of new ones.

    Building Contractors
    If you are employing a contractor to do any construction work (including demolition) you will have duties as a ”client” under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 which replace the existing regulations from 6th April. These include allowing adequate time for every stage of work; providing relevant information about the site, including existing structures and the intended use of any new workplace buildings; appointing the necessary professionals checking suitable management arrangements are in place during every stage of work and ensuring there are adequate welfare facilities on site before work begins. Both you and the contractor have separate legal duties for health and safety that you cannot pass to each other by contract meaning you must work together to ensure the job is done safely.

    Most farms will have some asbestos-containing materials (“ACMs”) e.g. compressed asbestos-cement roof sheers, building partitions or rainwater gutters. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 requires farm owners and tenants to assess the presence and condition of any ACMs. While not a legal requirement, it is recommended that you arrange a specialist survey unless confident there are no ACMs in your premises. This should be used to assess the risks and decide the necessary action. The survey and action list will form an asbestos management plan. Well-sealed, undamaged asbestos is often best left alone, but it may be better to remove ACMs that are damaged.

    Demolition or dismantling
    Like all construction work, this must be planned in writing. You must ensure the structure is brought down safely and that there is enough time to demolish or dismantle the building. Any part of the building remaining must be safe and the demolition of buildings containing higher-risk ACMs should only be carried out by a licensed contractor.

    New buildings
    When planning a new building, ask yourself: How accessible is it for people and vehicles? Might its use change in the future? What maintenance will it need? Whilst it is easy to build safety problems into a building, it is just as easy to engineer out these problems at the start. ACMs may not be re-used on new buildings. If using to repair pre-existing buildings this should only take place if it can be done without breaching the duty to prevent the exposure of your employees to asbestos so far as is reasonably practicable.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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