ORR is responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation for the operating railway by the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority for Railways and Other Guided Transport Systems) Regulations 2006. This includes all the provisions of The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR) except for licensed work with asbestos.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has retained responsibility for enforcement in respect of work with asbestos carried out under a licence, as well as the licensing process itself. Work with asbestos is one of the areas covered in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between HSE and ORR ( PDF 465 Kb), which provides for mutual cooperation and technical support.
ORR has responsibility for enforcement in respect of unlicensed work with asbestos. This work should only involve the occasional exposure of employees to asbestos at a low level; this means that the risk assessment should show that exposure will not exceed the control limit. The work must be:
- short, non-continuous maintenance work;
- removal of materials in which the asbestos fibres are firmly enclosed in a matrix, for example asbestos cement;
- sealing of asbestos-containing materials which are in good condition; or
- collection and analysis of samples to ascertain whether a specific material contains asbestos.
HSE has produced detailed guidance on safely undertaking unlicensed work with asbestos called asbestos essentials. This guidance also identifies work with asbestos that requires a licence.
The 2012 CAR Regulations introduce new requirements for unlicensed work. From 6 April 2012 some types of this work needs to be notified to the relevant enforcing authority and a brief written record need to be kept, where control limits are likely to be exceeded. Details of the notification process and which work is covered can be found on HSE’s website.
Asbestos was used as a fire retardant and insulator in many types of buildings prior to 1975, particularly in lagging pipe work and boilers and insulating board in ceilings, walls and doors. It could therefore be present in any station, office or maintenance depot. Asbestos cement was used until 1999, mainly for corrugated roofing and water pipes.
It will be widely distributed on the railway network in stations, signal boxes, depots and outbuildings. It was also used to insulate signalling and other electrical equipment beside the railway line. HSE published new guidance in January 2010 (Asbestos: the survey guide - PDF 1983 Kb) with lots of information on where asbestos can be found in buildings.
Most modern (post 1980) mainline rolling stock is unlikely to contain significant amounts of asbestos. Some individual components may have asbestos present. Vehicles built prior to this should have had asbestos insulation stripped from accessible areas, but it may still be present in enclosed structural areas, which will need dealing with if the vehicle is scrapped or the enclosure is breached for major repairs. It can be found in a number of areas on heritage trains and older carriages.
These are typical examples of where asbestos will be found on the railway but it can be present in other materials and locations. If there is any doubt about what the material contains it should either be presumed to contain asbestos and treated accordingly under the 2012 CAR regulations or be sampled and analysed by an accredited laboratory to confirm whether it has asbestos in it.
In all cases, dutyholders who have control of the maintenance or repair of premises, have a duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises so that it does not expose workers to asbestos and the risk of ill health. More information on the duty and its requirements can be found on the HSE website.
'Premises' has a wide definition and includes all parts of the railway and any buildings therein. It also includes all trains and carriages. In many cases Network Rail will be the dutyholder but there will be cases either contractually or through a lease where the responsibility will pass partly or solely to those occupying or operating from a premise. In complex cases legal advice may be needed to determine responsibilities.
If you are not certain where asbestos is in your premises, you may wish to arrange for an asbestos survey to identify materials that contain it. HSE’s website has information on selecting a competent surveyor. An accredited surveyor provides assurance of their competence and a list of surveyors can be found on the United Kingdom Accreditation Service website.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR) carried forward requirements previously contained in 'The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006'.
Regulation 4 sets out the requirements of the duty to manage asbestos.
Regulation 8 requires licensed asbestos work to be undertaken by a contractor licensed by HSE.
Under Regulation 9 that work must be notified to HSE at least 14 days in advance of the start date. Some types of unlicensed work with asbestos now needs to be notified to the relevant enforcing authority where they are likely to be above the control limits.
Regulation 22 now includes a new requirement that from April 2015 workers who carry out notifiable non-licensed work with asbestos should have a medical examination every three years by a licensed medical practitioner.
Subject to a few exemptions, Regulations 25 to 28 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations prohibit the import, supply and use of asbestos and items containing asbestos of all types.
The legislation also sets out the requirements prior to any work with asbestos starting, such as:
- risk assessment;
- plan of work; and
- information, instruction and training;
and the protective measures needed to prevent exposure to asbestos during and after work.
Some requirements only apply to licensed work, for example regulations 18, 19 and 20 - asbestos designated area, air monitoring and air testing. These regulations are for ORR to enforce in its area of responsibility, except for licensed asbestos work.
Regulation 29 allows the HSE to grant exemption certificates subject to:
- The requirement that it is satisfied that the health and safety of those involved will not be damaged, and
- Any provisions imposed by the communities in respect of marketing and use.
Under Regulation 32 of The Control of Asbestos Regulations, existing exemption certificates granted by the HSE under the previous regulations shall continue to have effect, these include:
Exemption Certificate No. 1 of 1995
Exempts the supply, by way of lease, of rail vehicles to authorised train operators for use on the national rail network.
This exemption contains the condition that the vehicles must have been through British Rail's asbestos removal programme for the removal of amphibole asbestos from all parts of the vehicle. If any such asbestos remains in the vehicle, it is protected, and cannot release any asbestos fibre during normal operation or routine light maintenance.
Exemption Certificate No. 2 of 1999
Exempts the supply of rail vehicles containing amphibole asbestos to museums and to minor and heritage railways. A similar condition applies requiring all amphibole asbestos to have been removed so far as is reasonably practicable.
Exemption Certificate No. 1 of 2001
Exempts the supply of a rail vehicle containing amphibole asbestos for use as a test vehicle for research purpose.
Exemption Certificate No. 2 of 2003
Exempts trains with bearings or housings containing a mixture of asbestos and phenol/cresilic formaldehyde resin.
Last updated: May 2012.