Chartered Building Surveyor James Barron today warned the construction industry to take the ongoing danger of asbestos seriously and said: “When it comes to the rule of law, ignorance is no defence.”
James, of Plymouth-based Barron Surveying Services Ltd, was speaking after a construction company in London became the latest of many in recent months to be fined for mismanagement of asbestos.
In the case, which came to light in February this year, a firm of contractors asked a specialist company to quote for the safe removal of asbestos, but a number of building workers with the contractor had already had a go at removing it themselves.
It resulted in the release of asbestos fibres, which contaminated the building, themselves and those around them, presenting a potentially serious health risk.
James pointed out that, although the potential dangers of asbestos, which has been used in building materials since the early 20th Century, are well known, firms are still falling foul of the law.
He also said that it surprises many people to learn that asbestos fibre, also known as white asbestos and chrysotile, was not banned for use in construction materials until 1999.
“There are well established duties in law for those that work in design and construction of buildings to safely manage asbestos, which always starts with a survey to establish where asbestos is, or might be, in a building,” said James
“It is also worth remembering that in almost every case, the asbestos doesn’t need to be removed it just needs to be managed safely. Risks only arise if the fibres are released.”
James suspects that this contractor won’t be the last to fall foul of the law – and building owners, managing agents, designers and contractors need to understand their obligations under current legislation.
“The lesson here is for everybody involved with a building to take professional advice before works starts. Here at Barron Surveying, we can carry out the survey work required and advise on how the asbestos can be properly managed,” said James.
“As with all law these days, ignorance is no defence, so make sure you get the proper advice from a specialist company like Barron Surveying Services Ltd.”
For more information on James’s Asbestos Inspections, as well as his other services, visit www.barronsurveying.co.uk