Asbestos is a natural material which was mined, refined and used in various forms to provide insulation and fire resistance in buildings. It was used in construction from the mid-19th Century until its use in new buildings was phased out from the 1970s and banned in 1999. As a result, many churches which were built or modified between 1850 and 1999 contain asbestos.
When material containing asbestos is damaged, broken, drilled or otherwise disturbed, tiny fibres of asbestos escape into the atmosphere. Invisible to the naked eye, under an electron microscope the needle-like shape of the fibres is clear. These tiny needles, when breathed in, lodge in lung tissue and can cause tremendous damage over time. For this reason, the Law requires people responsible for public buildings – including churches – to take action to protect the users of those buildings from potential harm arising from asbestos exposure.
Here are our Top Ten Tips for complying with the Law and keeping your building safe from harmful asbestos:
- Ensure that your church has had an asbestos survey in the last five years – if it hasn’t, organise one NOW.
- Only employ UKAS-accredited surveyors to carry out an asbestos survey in your church.
- Keep the survey in a safe place – it is an important document!
- Make sure everyone working in your church knows where any asbestos (or suspected asbestos) is, and what precautions they must take around it.
- Treat any material which you think might contain asbestos as though you know for certain that it does.
- Worry! The vast majority of asbestos in buildings is safe and presents no hazard to health.
- Attempt to remove asbestos yourself.
- Continue working if you discover suspected asbestos whilst carrying out a job.
- Proceed with work to remove or remediate asbestos without first obtaining a Faculty.
- Let anyone carry out work on asbestos unless you have verified that they hold the appropriate License to do so.
Find Out More
To find out more, and to read our full guidance on managing asbestos in churches, download our FREE booklet here (in PDF format).