First Annual Data Analysis Report into Asbestos in UK Buildings Published
ATaC and NORAC publish report after collating and analysing over 1 million lines of data.
Given that a large proportion of asbestos surveys are carried out using electronic data collection and report generation, the collation of data would be possible. So, ATaC and NORAC formed their first collaborative project. As ATaC and NORAC represent the asbestos surveying sector, they decided to combine efforts to provide a factual based review of the Duty to Manage.
The report analyses anonymised data provided freely by 20 UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accredited organisations, that was over 1 million lines of data derived from over 128,000 asbestos surveys(ii) of premises across the country. Making this data set statistically significant on the condition of asbestos in UK buildings.
1,016,783 items reported
- 79% either contained asbestos or presumed to contain asbestos
- 78% contained asbestos
- 94,116 were domestic properties(iii) of which 85% found to contain asbestos
- 63% of sites visited contained damaged asbestos
The data shows a significant percentage of sites have asbestos with varying levels of damage.
This initial report has focused on the extent of damage materials within the UK property portfolio. Given that the underlying premise of the ‘Duty to Manage’ requirements is to maintain asbestos in a good condition, the quantity of damaged asbestos containing materials does not make good reading.
Also, nearly 78% of the asbestos items identified in the survey data, if removed or worked upon, would represent unlicensed work. If the data is representative of the proportion of unlicensed work versus licensed work in general, then there is a large proportion of work with asbestos, that whilst regulated is largely unenforced by regulators.
What does this tell us about asbestos management today?
The ATaC and NORAC report highlights some concerning asbestos management failings in the UK.
The causes of ineffective management can be complex, however this report shows that even after 20 years of the ‘Duty to Manage’ regulation(iv), there are major issues in the management of asbestos in the UK.
The data also illustrates the extent of the asbestos problem within social housing, an area largely ignored by regulations to date, yet an area that does need to be examined with some urgency.
Good asbestos management is about protecting the health and safety of employees, workers, and the general public. What this data indicates is that the UK is not yet at this stage. The legacy of asbestos related disease deaths, currently at 5,000 a year(v), has the potential to continue for many generations to come.
The future of the ‘Duty to Manage’ regulations
The publication of this report has shown the value of collaborative working. ATaC has played a leading role in this initiative and going forward will be asking all ATaC members, and the industry at large, to work together to provide more information on the state of asbestos management in UK buildings.
ATaC will be inviting all UKAS inspection bodies and database providers to a remote conference currently planned for 11th January 2023, to discuss future reports.
The full report is available here
(i) House of Commons Department of Work and Pensions Committee, The Health and Safety Executive’s approach to asbestos management, Sixth Report of Session 2021–22, March 2022
(ii) undertaken between 1st October 2021 to 31st March 2022
(iii) domestic properties includes both dwellings and communal areas of blocks of flats and sheltered scheme
(iv) Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002, Regulation 4 - The ‘Duty to Manage’ asbestos is directed at those who manage non-domestic premises: the people with responsibility for protecting others who work in such premises, or use them in other ways, from the risks to ill health that exposure to asbestos causes.