Managing Asbestos Containing Materials Safely: New Guidelines

Author:Mr Deirdre O'Mahony and Niav O'Higgins
Profession:Arthur Cox

On 14 August 2013, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) published new guidelines -"Asbestos-Containing Materials in Workplaces: Practical Guidelines on ACM Management and Abatement".

This is a welcome development. The Asbestos Guidelines are comprehensive and detailed, running to 140 pages and 18 sections, and address the range of statutory duty-holders, including employers, clients, project supervisors and asbestos surveyors, analysts and consultants.

The stated purpose of the Asbestos Guidelines is to provide practical advice on the precautions necessary to prevent exposure to asbestos or, where this is not reasonably practicable, to reduce exposure to the lowest level reasonably practicable. As with other guidance published by the HSA, the general benchmark recommended is 'accepted best practice' as outlined in the Asbestos Guidelines and existing UK/ HSE asbestos guidance. This reference to the UK/HSE guidance is encouraging, as existing policies based on the longstanding UK/HSE guidance should not require radical revision to accord with the Asbestos Guidelines. However, all employers should carefully review existing policies and procedures to ensure they are consistent with the new Asbestos Guidelines.


The principal reference point for the Asbestos Guidelines is the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Exposure to Asbestos) Regulations 2006 and 2010. Many employers will be familiar with the Regulations, which apply to all work activities in which employees are or are likely to be exposed to dust arising from either or both asbestos and materials containing asbestos during their work. The Asbestos Guidelines outline the practical steps involved in addressing the key requirements of the Asbestos Regulations, including risk assessment, notifications, plans of work and information, instruction and training.

Asbestos Guidelines

The Asbestos Guidelines are comprehensive and are comprised of the following sections:

Section 1: What is Asbestos? Section 2: Asbestos in Buildings Section 3: What are the health effects? Section 4: Risks from Asbestos and ACMs Section 5: The law Section 6: Risk assessment of ACMs Section 7: Managing asbestoscontaining Materials Section 8: Asbestos surveys »» Section 9: Training, instruction and information Section 10: Personal protective equipment Section 11: Lower risk work with ACMs Section 12: Work with higher risk asbestos-containing materials Section 13: Role of the independent competent analyst...

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