Asbestos (OBUHSN-35)

The Control of Asbestos Regulations places upon premises holders duties to prevent, or control to the lowest possible level, exposure to asbestos fibres.

This Oxford Brookes University Health and Safety Notice is intended to implement these regulations, the amendments to the regulations and any guidance that has been issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Nothing in this Health and Safety Notice should be read as contradicting any requirement or provision of the regulations or supporting documentation.

This Health and Safety Notice should be read and understood by all appropriate employees of Oxford Brookes University. Where appropriate it should be read in conjunction with the Estates and Facilities Management policy document 'Management and Control of Asbestos - Policy and Procedures’.

This Health and Safety Notice will detail procedures to be adopted for dealing with the asbestos contained within Oxford Brookes University sites, and is intended to reduce to a negligible level the risk associated with exposure to asbestos containing materials.


Types of asbestos

There are three main types of asbestos, crocidolite, (blue asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos), and chrysotile (white asbestos), which, despite their common names, are not able to be distinguished by their colour. They are all potentially hazardous to health.

Nature of risk

Asbestos in the solid or bulk form is not hazardous. When asbestos containing material (ACM) is broken up it can produce very small dust particles or fibres which may become airborne and if breathed in over a long period may cause damage to the lungs. Asbestos diseases usually occur only as a result of prolonged exposure, an isolated accidental exposure to asbestos dust of a short duration is unlikely to result in the development of asbestos-related disease. 

Acquisition of asbestos

In compliance with The Asbestos (Prohibitions) Regulations no asbestos or asbestos containing materials may be brought onto any University premises. This prohibition also applies to second hand or reconditioned items or building materials.

Likley locations for asbestos

Asbestos is likely to be found either as a component of a building material, or used within certain types of older equipment or machines such as ovens and heaters.

During the twentieth century asbestos was often used as a building material or a constituent for building materials, frequently utilised as a fire retardant and or insulating material.

Examples of its use include thermal insulation for pipes and tanks, loose packing in ceiling voids, insulating board, corrugated roofing sheets, protective paper coatings, sprayed on coatings, ceiling tiles and floor tiles.

Older pieces of electrical and mechanical equipment such as ovens, hotplates and fan heaters etc. may contain asbestos. 


The Director of Estates and Facilities Management (EFM) will ensure that all University staff that may come into contact with ACM will undergo suitable and sufficient asbestos safety training, in relation to the type of work they are likely to undertake. The training, which will be provided by a competent trainer, will include details of how to recognise asbestos, its likely locations, the work permitted to be done by law, protection procedures, equipment to be used, type and maintenance of personal protective equipment, decontamination of work areas and disposal of waste.

Management of asbestos

It is the responsibility of The Director of Estates and Facility Management to identify where asbestos is likely to be within the fabric of University buildings and associated structures.

It should be assumed that all materials contain asbestos unless there is clear evidence that they do not (e.g. glass, steelwork, stone). For all suspect materials a survey will be carried out in accordance with The Asbestos Survey Guide HSG264 which will make use of an approved specialist contractor or consultant.

For sites in which no or a minimal amount of dismantling is anticipated a Management Survey (visual and sample analysis) will be carried out.

For major work a Refurbishment and Demolition Survey (visual and full access sample analysis) will be carried out.

Records of the location, type, description and condition of the ACM will be entered onto the electronic Envacs System, the University’s asbestos register, controlled by the Directorate of Estates and Facility Management. These records must be updated whenever any changes to the ACM (e.g. repair or removal) or re-inspection takes place.

The Directorate of Estates and Facilities Management will draw up and maintain a plan, which will be recorded on the Envacs system, of what needs to be done with the ACM, depending on the risk which it poses. The risk assessment will take into account the ACM’s location, the product type, its friability, risk of damage and the occupation level in the area.

If the condition of the ACM is good, and it is not likely to be damaged or disturbed, it should be left it in place, if possible labelled at its location, its details recorded on the Envacs database and be inspected regularly.

If the ACM is in poor condition or is likely to become damaged, it should, if possible, be labelled at its location and the situation recorded on the Envacs database. ACM should not be removed unnecessarily. If possible the ACM should be repaired or sealed (by painting or similar technique). If the ACM is unable to be to sealed or repaired it will be removed using controlled methods, see 22 below.

Care will be taken that ACMs are not disturbed or damaged when any maintenance or repair to buildings or equipment is carried out by University staff or by outside contractors.

Licensed and unlicensed work with asbestos

Certain types of work with asbestos need to be licensed with the HSE.

Where major works on or removal of ACM is required, the Estates and Facilities Contract Administrator or Line Manager will be responsible for ensuring all work involving asbestos based materials is carried out in full accordance with the current statutory regulations, using HSE licensed and Oxford Brookes University approved specialist contractors.  Requirements include (not an exhaustive list):

  • Statutory notice to HSE
  • Job specific Risk Assessment
  • Job specific Method Statement
  • Prior liaison with University Safety Officer and Site Services
  • Prior liaison with appropriate Faculty/Directorate staff
  • Waste disposal to approved sites under controlled conditions
  • Air clearance certificates (by independent analyst)
  • Update the progress of the work on the Asbestos Register.

Control limits

There is a single control limit of 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre (f/cm3) of air, regardless of the type of asbestos.

Asbestos in equipment and machines

The Dean of Faculty/Director of Directorate will be responsible for all products, materials or equipment within their Faculty/Directorate, identified as having ACM, excluding ACM used in the construction of the building.

The Dean of Faculty/Director of Directorate where products, materials or equipment have been identified will prepare safe written procedures for operating, handling, etc. the item containing the asbestos.

Management of service ducts

Due to the presence of asbestos products within the service ducts, any entry to the ducts, or any work carried out within the ducts will require a Permit to Work, issued by the Safety Officer.  See the Code of Practice for Permits to Work Procedure

A licensed specialist contractor will carry out any necessary repair work on the ACM products within the cable ducts.

If the ACM within a service duct suffer damage at any time, the person causing or finding the damage will immediately vacate the ducts and inform Director of Estates and Facilities Management and/or the Safety Officer.

The Director of Estates and Facilities Management will immediately have all persons working within the duct evacuated, prohibit any further access to the cable duct until the area is declared safe, and arrange for a licensed specialist contractor to carry out remedial work and clean the area, using approved procedures.

Accidental damage of ACM

If a material, product or equipment containing or suspected to contain  ACM becomes damaged, the person causing or finding the damage must immediately restrict access to the area, and inform the Safety Officer or the Director of Estates and Facilities Management.

The Director of Estates and Facilities Management, the Safety Officer and the Dean of Faculty/Director of Directorate involved will then agree a method of dealing with the problem.

Disposal of asbestos

The licensed specialist contractor carrying out work on asbestos materials will be responsible for disposing of, in the approved manner, any waste product containing asbestos.

Materials or products containing asbestos will be placed in double plastic bags, sealed and suitably marked, and the Director of Estates and Facilities Management informed. A specialist licensed contractor will then be contacted and be asked to dispose of them.

Equipment containing asbestos, which there is a requirement to dispose of, will be sealed in double plastic bags if possible, or be securely double wrapped in plastic and adequately sealed. The item will be suitably marked and then advice obtained Director of Estates and Facilities Management on how the item will be disposed of.

Issue date: 5 December 2012