Asbestos safety

Asbestos is a natural occurring mineral which can be found in rocks all over the world. Asbestos fibres are strong and flexible with excellent fire proofing and insulating qualities, and were commonly added to building materials. Most homes built between 1930s and 1990s feature some building products with ACMs (Asbestos Containing Materials). Its use in the construction industry was finally banned in the UK in 1999. So if your home was built after this date it is very unlikely to contain asbestos. The three types of asbestos which were used in the UK are;

  • crocidolite (blue asbestos)
  • amosite (brown asbestos)
  • chrysotile (white asbestos)

It is not possible to tell whether a material contains asbestos by simply looking at it.

Asbestos-containing materials (ACM) are generally safe if the fibres are undisturbed or damaged. DIY work can result in exposed risk whilst it may only be brief it could increase over time. This includes drilling, sanding or sawing which may disturb the materials. Asbestos fibres released during these activities cannot be seen with the naked eye. DIY work can result in brief but high levels of exposure that can put your family at risk and if breathed in, it can cause health problems such as breathing difficulties or more serious diseases.

More information about the health implications of asbestos exposure can be found at Health and Safety Executive - Asbestos website

Where can asbestos be found?

Asbestos-containing material may be found in various places of the home, inside or outside. Common places include:

  • Building exterior such as roof materials, cladding and guttering
  • Interior surfaces like textured wall coatings or old vinyl floor tiles
  • Outbuildings like garages and roofing materials

This is not an exhaustive list and more information can be found on the asbestos section of the Health and Safety Executive - Building website

Our responsibilities

We identify and manage the risks of asbestos materials in our buildings by:

  • Conducting surveys, testing and regular re-inspections, to identify asbestos-containing materials in homes and other out buildings such as garages
  • Compile and maintain as comprehensive asbestos register of our properties
  • Providing relevant information on the asbestos risk to relevant parties such as contractors who may be carrying out work. This includes ensuring our own repair operatives are fully trained and equipped.
  • Checking the asbestos database to identify any asbestos-containing materials prior to undertaking any planned maintenance in your home.
  • Removing or encapsulating asbestos-containing materials identified in poor condition.

All works will be carried out by licensed and UKAS accredited contractors.

Your responsibility

There are safety measures you can take to keep asbestos safe:

  • Allow access to carry out surveys to identify asbestos and if necessary, removal by licensed contractors
  • Some very old items such as cookers, ironing board pads, fire blankets and oven gloves may contain asbestos.

If you are planning to dispose of these items and think they may contain asbestos, please contact the Housing Repairs Team for advice.

Take extra precaution when carrying out DIY in a property that may contain asbestos-containing materials (those generally built before 1999)

  • Obtain permission from your Housing Officer before you undertake any DIY (you should not carry out any alterations or improvements to your home, other than cleaning or basic decorating).
  • Take every precaution to avoid damaging building materials as they may contain asbestos.
  • Never remove materials that may contain asbestos or dispose of in dustbins or skips.
  • Never saw, sand or drill holes in any material that contains asbestos.
  • Never remove old floor tiles, linoleum or the glue affixing them.
  • Never dust, sweep or vacuum debris that you think may contain asbestos.
  • Never try to scrape, sand down or remove textured coatings from walls and ceilings.
  • Never jet wash or clean down asbestos cement roofing materials such as corrugated garage or shed roofs.

Request more information

You can request a copy of the asbestos survey for your home from the Housing Repairs Team.

Leaseholders will need to arrange and pay for their own asbestos survey and removal if necessary, by an approved and licensed contractor. If you require further information and advice please visit the Health and Safety Executive - website