Role and Responsibilities of ‘Duty Holder’ in Managing Asbestos Exposure
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 was the first regulation in the UK that addressed control of asbestos at work and Managing Asbestos Exposure. The legislation had stipulated that the work of disposing of asbestos should be done by a licensed asbestos removal contractor.
Later legislations had introduced additional requirements regarding disposal of asbestos. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 had put the responsibility of asbestos removal on the ‘duty holder’. Here we will take a look at who is the duty holder, and what are the legal responsibilities of duty holder regarding disposal of asbestos.
Who is a Duty Holder in the Legal Context?
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 in the UK has put the responsibility of monitoring and safe disposal of asbestos on the duty holder. The duty holder has been defined by the regulation as:
- a person who is obligated by the tenancy agreement or contract to maintain and repair a commercial property, or
- a person who has ownership or control of the commercial property and there is no other person who has been designated to maintain and repair the property
In case there are more than one duty holders, the legislation requires that each of them will make the contribution as determined by the extent and nature of the obligation to maintain and repair the property.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Duty Holder
The legislation has stipulated that every person is required to cooperate with the duty holder as is required to enable the duty holder to fulfil the legal requirements. The duty holder is required to carry on a regular assessment as to whether asbestos is present in the premises. When making the assessment, the duty holder should take into account the age of the premises and the building plans.
The duty holder should ensure that assessment is carried out of the building areas that are reasonably accessible, and that the results of the assessment are reviewed without delay.
In case the assessment results show that asbestos is present, the duty holder is required to determine the risk of the asbestos, and create a written plan that identifies the location of the material, and measures that should be taken to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure. The risk control measure should include plans for monitoring the location containing asbestos material and ensuring that the substance is safely removed when damaged.
Lastly, the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 mandates that the information regarding the location and status of asbestos-containing material is provided to everyone who is liable to disturb it and to the emergency services for safe measures. Also, a reassessment should be carried out if there has been a significant alteration in the premises.