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Asbestos removal notification

Most higher-risk work with asbestos must only be done by a licensed contractor. All licensable work must be notified to the appropriate enforcing authority using an ASB5 form at least 14 days before the work starts.

For the ASB5 form and for some examples of what types of work are considered to be licensable, please visit the Health and Safety Executive website.

Different types of asbestos

  • Asbestos cement: used in shed or corrugated garage roofs, roofing tiles, eaves, gutters and water tanks
  • Soft asbestos: used in pipe and boiler lagging
  • Insulation board: used in fire-proof cladding, thermal insulation board and acoustic panels
  • Sprayed coatings: used on soffits to communal walkways in blocks of flats and underground car parks for fire protection
  • Miscellaneous: used in ironing boards, brake pads, textured paints, floor tiles and certain types of Calor gas portable heaters manufactured before 1976.

What are the hazards?

The presence of asbestos does not necessarily create a health risk. The risk arises from breathing microscopic asbestos fibres that are released through mishandling or in areas where the asbestos is subject to heavy wear.

What action should you take?

If asbestos material is in good order and repair, it is best left alone. You are likely to create more problems by attempting to remove the material.

To reduce the risk of contamination, we recommend the following:

  • Seal and paint by priming asbestos sheets with an alkali-resistant primer then finish with emulsion or gloss paint. Do not scrape prior to painting
  • Cover sheet asbestos with wallpaper fixed with a strong adhesive or with hardboard
  • Seal and paint with a bitumastic paint such as Aquaseal or Synaprufe
  • Seal with a PVA adhesive such as Unibond.

Do not attempt the removal of:

  • soft asbestos
  • asbestos insulating board (similar to plaster board)
  • sprayed asbestos coating

These should be dealt with by a professional stripping company licensed by the Health and Safety Executive. The work must be undertaken in accordance with a strict code of practice involving the use of specialised equipment and protective clothing.

Removal of sheet asbestos (for example, corrugated shed or garage roof)

Removal of asbestos cement products, which normally comprise 10-15% of asbestos removal, can be undertaken by the householder provided the following precautions are observed:

  • Avoid breaking up small pieces by using hammers or dropping from heights into refuse skips
  • Do not use power tools - hand tools are recommended
  • Undo hardware such as fixing bolts and screws and remove panels in one piece
  • Thoroughly soak the material before starting work. You are advised to introduce a suitable wetting agent, such as washing-up liquid, in the water before saturation.
  • Stack the removed sheets in the open and cover with a plastic sheet. Small pieces should be soaked and swept into strong plastic sacks and sealed, not vacuum cleaned.
  • Always work in well-ventilated areas
  • Persons handling asbestos should wear washable over-clothing and should thoroughly wash bare skin on completion of the work. If removal is difficult and large pieces of asbestos need to be broken up, you are advised to hire clothing and equipment from a reliable hire shop and wear a dust mask specified for asbestos dust

Disposal of asbestos

For information on the disposal of asbestos, see the Dispose of asbestos safely webpage.

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