Most buildings at Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, were built between 1960 and 2000, before 1999's asbestos ban, so a full asbestos management plan must be maintained, says Daniel Rushton.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 requires building owners or those responsible for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises to undertake a 'Duty to Manage' asbestos risk. At Fitzwilliam, the maintenance manager is responsible for ensuring compliance. Here's how we helped the college achieve it.
Stage 1: Validate and audit
We completed an audit and verification of existing asbestos information, processes and procedures. At the college, the information came from management and refurbishment surveys, asbestos removal certificates and sporadic data ranging from 30 years old to relatively new.
The audit involved interviews with key stakeholders to identify roles and responsibilities, the review of old reports against current properties to determine ongoing accuracy and the discussion of procedures, knowledge and information.
1.1 Data best practice
With a property portfolio as broad as Fitzwilliam College, we introduced an online asbestos management system. Data was previously held in multiple files across a number of offices with legacy data missing or incomplete.
During the audit, we sanitised the data and made it accessible from any web-based location. This approach tracks log-ins, downloads and any changes to documentation, which aids in meeting the varying asbestos management requirements under CAR (Control of Asbestos Regulations) rule 10.
By hosting all documentation centrally, client information is readily available and easy for all parties to access. When building contractors arrive to complete maintenance work, the college can supply them with full and accurate asbestos records to ensure compliance.
Stage 2: Review of findings and proposals
Reviewing the audit findings with the college meant a proposal could be developed to help it transition to a state of full compliance, setting out a realistic timeline based on risk, budget, accessibility and stakeholder requirements.
The proposal instigated the redefining of asbestos management processes and procedures.
Stage 3: Prioritise activities
Upon acceptance of the proposed plan, the highest priority activities were completed first: bespoke asbestos awareness training for appropriate teams, asbestos management surveys, re-inspection surveys to higher-risk properties, the development of internal permits to work and the installation of a refurbishment survey request system prior to any intrusive works being completed.
The college relied on our temporary policies to ensure it had suitable policy and management plans in place, but only until it reached a stage where bespoke client specific policies and procedures could be created.
3.1 Bespoke training
Tailored training to meet the needs of the college's staff ensured data was relevant to employees in their duties.
For example, plumbers were made aware of asbestos in bathrooms and maintenance staff were warned against disturbing low-risk asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) through non-licensable work with asbestos training and gardeners and groundskeepers were provided with data on the risks from asbestos in soil.
3.2 Survey management
Continued refurbishment and demolition surveys are essential across the college's portfolio. Recent intrusive survey works include the review of confined space ducts under the central building and strategic surveying of doors and door sets.
The college has peace of mind that it has processes and procedures in place to manage and control the presence of asbestos within its buildings to safeguard all who use it.
Daniel Rushton is business development manager for SOCOTEC's Asbestos division