Each PCC has a duty in law actively to manage asbestos in its church and church hall in order to protect the well-being of anyone who may come into contact with the material. Most churches were built before asbestos started to be used, but any new building work undertaken during the 20th century may contain asbestos in, for example, ceiling tiles, electrical insulation, fire protection, heating systems, pipe lagging, organ blowing equipment, roofing materials, bitumen, vinyl or thermoplastic floor tiles. However, asbestos will NOT be present in glass, timber, bricks or stone. Once asbestos is identified, the PCC must draw up a plan to manage it and the church architect will be able to advise them on this. If the asbestos shows any signs of damage (e.g. frayed ends or scratches, surface sealants peeling or breaking off, detachment from fixings, or dust or debris nearby) it will require full assessment by a contractor with appropriate liability insurance - the PCC must check for such cover by viewing the contractor's policy prior to any survey work being undertaken. If the asbestos is in poor condition it must be repaired, sealed, enclosed or removed by a contractor who is a member of the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association and who also has suitable insurance cover. If the asbestos shows no signs of damage, it may not require treatment provided that it is stable and unlikely to be damaged, disturbed or worked on. In all such cases the asbestos must be recorded on a plan and monitored - contractors and, where appropriate, the emergency services must be made aware of its presence.
Detailed advice: available from the Churchcare website. This sets out in detail the important legal and practical issues PCCs need to be aware of.
- Health & Safety Executive – comprehensive information about the dangers of asbestos and how to manage them
- Asbestos Removal Contractors Association - offers guidance and an accreditation scheme for contractors
- Asbestos Watchdog - a consultancy set up to provide an independent source of advice about the management and removal of asbestos. It offers simple guidance together with a range of free or low cost advisory services