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Is the release of asbestos reportable under RIDDOR?

Posted on: 27/04/2017

Guidance from IOSH-Asbestos Exposure and RIDDOR

We have been working on a site and a contractor has drilled a hole in a wall and released asbestos. Is this reportable under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, 2013)?

If you believe the release or escape of fibres into the air were of a sufficient quantity to cause damage to health, then this would be reportable under RIDDOR 2013. If it is unclear, then it would be sensible to err on the side of caution and report.

The following information from the HSE website will help clarify your decision.

“When does inadvertent exposure to asbestos constitute a reportable incident under RIDDOR? The Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) places duties on employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises (the responsible person) to report certain serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences (near misses). Exposure to asbestos is reportable under RIDDOR when a work activity causes the accidental release or escape of asbestos fibres into the air in a quantity sufficient to cause damage to the health of any person. Such situations are likely to arise when work is carried out without suitable controls or where those controls fail.

They often involve:

  • use of power tools (to drill, cut, etc.) on most asbestos-containing materials (ACMs)
  • work that leads to physical disturbance (knocking, breaking, smashing) of an ACM
  • that should only be handled by a licensed contractor (e.g. sprayed coating, lagging, asbestos insulating board (AIB))
  • manually cutting or drilling AIB
  • work involving aggressive physical disturbance of asbestos cement e.g. breaking or
  • smashing.

If these activities are carried out without suitable controls or the precautions fail to control exposure, these would be classed as a 'dangerous occurrence' under RIDDOR, and should be reported.

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