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DIY & Asbestos

There are a variety of television programs in the UK that are dedicated to repairing domestic homes and historical properties. These programs range from small-scale "Do It Yourself" type repairs (under presumably professional guidance) to the complete renovation of entire properties.

In each program, a pattern is being followed;

1. Either the property owner has started a project and has ‘run out of money’, or;

2. A dilapidated property is being upgraded, or;

3. A rogue builder has started a project and has failed to finish it.

There are also programs relative to auctions, in which often dilapidated property is bought, transformed, and either sold on or rented out.

The single issue affecting all these programs is the lack of clear Health and Safety guidelines, specific to asbestos. There is rarely any evidence of an invasive/intrusive Asbestos Refurbishment Survey (a legal requirement in the UK for all intrusive works in all properties which pre-date the year 2000).

Many in the asbestos sector have witnessed what looks like asbestos products being disturbed during these renovations, as well as drilling and hammering work through walls that are visually intact.  In other words, there is no evidence of pre-start invasive asbestos surveying on the footage shown on the TV. 

What we should witness are intrusions to match the planned works and sufficient physical evidence of an asbestos survey that has been undertaken to the extent needed to identify whether asbestos is present before the works commence.

It is often assumed that television program makers will be alive to the requirements of asbestos regulations and seek guidance where appropriate.  The process of deciding whether the work can be done should start with an overview of the risks, the primary one being the potential for the release of asbestos fibres during the project.  It is worth remembering that asbestos is still the biggest single issue for the HSE; it is also still the biggest industrial killer.

A team effort to ensure compliance and site safety needs to be adopted, irrespective of the type of property being adapted. The asbestos survey is the start of that team effort to ensure site safety is as good as it can be, and that asbestos is not a risk to those tradespeople or those who attend the property during or after the works.

It must also be remembered that the tradespeople and indeed the camera crew on those DIY programs are at their place of work, undertaking the tasks assigned to them by a project manager, or indeed a program maker.

Asbestos does not discriminate, and these tradespeople could easily be contaminating entire buildings and contents, within which families are residing and other people are working, living and filming the television program.

Are we facing a situation where the HSE will assign staff to watch these television programs to witness a breach of asbestos regulations?

Contact us for impartial, independent asbestos advice.  We’re part of your team and have compliance and safety at the forefront of everything we do.

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