Asbestos in the Construction Industry

Asbestos is the biggest occupational disease risk to construction workers. HSE commissioned research estimates it was responsible for the death of over 2,500 construction workers in 2005 – more than two-thirds of cancer deaths in the industry.

Asbestos acts as an insulator (to keep heat in and keep cold out), has good fire protection properties and protects against corrosion. It can be found in many products within the construction industry including ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, boilers and sprayed coatings. It was extensively used from the 1950s through to the mid-1980s but can be found in buildings built as late as 1999.

It is a legal requirement that a refurbishment asbestos survey is undertaken prior to the commencement of intrusive building works. If you work in construction you should always ask your employer to provide you with details of any asbestos present before starting work.

If you are planning demolition works then an even more intrusive demolition asbestos survey should be prepared.

Remember HSE Inspectors visiting site will want to see that there is an asbestos survey on site and that you are avoiding exposure to it.

Asbestos can be found in any industrial or residential building built or refurbished before the year 2000. It is in many of the common materials used in the building trade that you may come across during your work.