Asbestos safety

Asbestos can be present in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000. When materials that contain Asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air.

When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases (e.g. Mesothelioma or Asbestos-related lung cancer). These diseases often take a long time to develop and once diagnosed, it's often too late to do anything.

How we manage the risk of asbestos

In the past the University has carried out extensive surveys of its Estate and removed any asbestos that could present a risk to building occupants. All asbestos-containing materials known to be present are in good condition, have been encapsulated or are safe and inaccessible.  Its location is recorded in an Asbestos Register and regular checks are made on its condition.

Users of buildings containing asbestos are safe, provided the Asbestos is not disturbed. Those involved in refurbishment, maintenance and other similar trades, could be at risk of exposure to asbestos during their work if risks are not controlled.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 requires employers to prevent exposure of asbestos to anyone using or working in the University's premises.

Asbestos Management Policy and Plan

Our Health and Safety policiesHealth and Safety policiesHealth and Safety policies express our commitment to the achievement of high standards of health and safety and its objectives for the coming years. It also sets out the health and safety responsibilities of the University’s leaders, managers, staff and students.

The University’s Asbestos Management Policy and Plan (.pdf) sets out our arrangements for managing the risk from Asbestos. It sets out:

  • roles and responsibilities
  • requirements for training
  • how risks are controlled
  • how the Asbestos Register is managed and kept up to date
  • the action to take in the event of inadvertent release of, or accidental exposure to, asbestos

Where work is planned that could disturb asbestos, surveys are carried out and, where necessary, the asbestos is safely removed beforehand.

Our responsibilities

Overall responsibility 

The Registrar and Secretary is the duty holder with overall responsibility for ensuring that there are effective arrangements in place and that adequate resources are allocated to the management of asbestos on the University’s Estate.

Responsibility for managing the risk of asbestos

The prime responsibility for managing the risk from Asbestos within the built environment across the University’s estate rests with the Estate Management Section. Specific responsibilities are detailed in the Asbestos Management Policy and Plan (.pdf).

On no account are activities that may disturb the fabric of the building to be undertaken without prior referral to the Estates Management (Maintenance) team and formal written approval obtained prior to works.

Heads of Department/Section/Faculty responsibilities

All Heads of Department/Section/Faculty must ensure that where any repairs, alterations, improvements or modifications that may involve disturbing, cutting through or drilling into the building fabric are required, they arrange for the work to be procured and managed by the Estate Management Section.

The Director of IT Services must also ensure that work carried out by IT Services staff or contractors does not disturb Asbestos.

All staff responsibilities

  • You must not carry out modifications that may involve disturbing, cutting through or drilling into the building fabric without first getting approval from the Estate Management Section.
  • If you discover damage to material that may contain asbestos, report it to the EMS Helpdesk EMS Helpdesk immediately.
  • Make sure you know and understand your responsibilities as detailed in the Asbestos Management Policy and Plan (.pdf).
  • If you undertake work on the building fabric you must attend training.
  • Do not keep, accept as a gift or purchase old or second-hand equipment that may contain Asbestos. This means equipment such as ovens, insulating mats, fire blankets, oven gloves, ironing surfaces and equipment with soundproofing, thermal insulation, brakes, etc. If you have old equipment that you think may contain Asbestos, contact the Health and Safety Advisory Service. Equipment bought new after 2000 contains no Asbestos.


All staff and contractors who undertake work on the building fabric are required to attend training on the risks from Asbestos and their role in preventing exposure. Speak to your manager, Estate Management Section or the Health and Safety Advisory Service to arrange this.

Accidental exposure

The University has a process to enable individuals who believe they may have been inadvertently exposed to asbestos while at our University to register their concerns. If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos, you must tell your line manager immediately.  Your manager must then immediately inform the Health and Safety Advisory Service and Occupational Health Service.

Occupational Health will ask affected employees to fill in a questionnaire. Once the questionnaire has been submitted, affected employees may be invited to attend a meeting with an Occupational Health Adviser to discuss the possible exposure and any health screening they may require.

An investigation will also be carried out by the Health and Safety Advisory Service alongside the manager/project officer responsible for the activity.

Further information

The legal requirements for the management of Asbestos is covered by the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2012 and the HSE Approved Code of Practice Managing and Working with Asbestos (L143).

The HSE provides further information on Asbestos health and safety. This includes an image gallery showing common places where Asbestos can be found.

Also see

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Workplace Health, Safety and Wellbeing
Telephone: 01206 872944