Be proactive: plan, prevent & protect

Planning to modernise your university estate buildings? Have you budgeted for asbestos management, asks Joanne Cooke?

Many university premises were built or refurbished when asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were used during construction. Any buildings constructed before the use of asbestos was banned in 1999 must be presumed to contain asbestos until an asbestos survey determines otherwise. Before you conduct any refurbishment and modernisation works, a pre-refurbishment asbestos survey is crucial to ensuring the safety of the individuals working on your site.

Your project management team should ensure that you have budgeted for asbestos investigations and remediation at the earliest stage to prevent any unplanned costs and delays to your modernisation project.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that around 5,000 people in the UK die each year from asbestos-related cancers. The World Health Organisation estimates 107,000 people die every year as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos, with figures continuing to rise. Asbestos is only a risk to human and environmental health when it is improperly managed and airborne asbestos fibres are released into the air and subsequently breathed in by building occupants.

Avoiding exposure

Asbestos exposure is preventable when the correct processes are followed.

Take the correct steps to prevent exposure by having a pre-refurbishment survey provided by a trusted, accredited supplier. This will protect your students, your team, your contractors and your organisation from asbestos-related risks.

You must get an asbestos pre-refurbishment survey ahead of any work that may disturb known and/or unknown ACMs, including:

  • Modernisation projects
  • Refurbishment projects
  • Structural alterations
  • Window/door replacements
  • Installation of telecoms, fire protection and utility services (internal and external).

Any known ACMs within your properties, including any significantly degraded ACMs that have deteriorated over time, also present a risk of asbestos fibre release and therefore must be managed and maintained through asbestos management activities, including;

  • An up-to-date asbestos register, accessible to staff and contractors
  • Asbestos awareness training for key staff
  • Annual asbestos re-inspections
  • Remediation of high-, medium- and low-risk ACMs, if required
  • A programme of air monitoring to determine the building is safe for occupation.

The risks and associated costs for getting asbestos management wrong can be substantial due to additional works being required and project delays.

To mitigate against this, we recommend that you engage a trusted, accredited supplier such as Lucion to support you in the planning stage of all refurbishment and modernisation projects undertaken to ensure you comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

As the leading asbestos consultancy in the UK, Lucion offers a number of solutions that go over and above regulatory requirements, including QR Codes and 3D building modelling with integrated asbestos management data, for easy and effective asbestos management throughout your estate. These innovative digital solutions have been utilised by multiple clients across a variety of sectors. Lucion’s methods are tried and tested, supported by award-winning, online, risk and compliance management software, NexGen.

Joanne Cooke, technical consultant, Lucion Environmental, part of the Lucion Services group.
Call: 0345 5040 303 or email:

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