When asbestos materials are damaged or disturbed they can release dangerous fibres. If breathed in the fibres can cause serious diseases making asbestos the single greatest cause of work related deaths in the UK.
Generally asbestos is only a risk if fibres are being released into the air and inhaled. If asbestos containing materials are in good condition and in a position where they are not likely to be damaged, worked on (e.g. drilled, cut or sawn etc.) or disturbed it is generally safer to leave them in place and manage the risk. Their condition should be regularly monitored to identify deterioration.
Managing asbestos in commercial or public premises
There is a duty to identify and manage ACM's in work places and the common parts of domestic premises. In many cases the occupier or owner of the premises should undertake this assessment to ensure that ACM's are not accidentally disturbed by contractors such as plumbers, electricians and builders.
If you are an employer, commercial lease holder, plumber, electrician or builder you can find further information relating to asbestos from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
Information regarding asbestos for businesses can be found on the HSE's website.