The Spectre of Asbestos
Asbestos was used extensively in building materials until it was discovered it caused a range of deadly lung diseases. As a legacy, asbestos remains present in older buildings in a range of forms.
Legislation now controls the use, handling and responsibility for asbestos in a workplace. It also mandates the use of asbestos registers in connection with many buildings.
Responsibility lies with the person who has “control or management of the relevant workplace” – often a complex matrix of responsibility depending upon legislation, contractual arrangements and the physical site.
It is incumbent upon owners, retailers and property managers to be aware of and deal appropriately with asbestos related risks.
To minimise the dangers of asbestos in the Large Format Retail world and to comply with legal responsibilities, the following steps should ideally be taken, where asbestos may be an issue:
- Undertake due diligence with asbestos
- Seek warranties from vendors
- Identify risks
- Prepare a strategy to deal with risks
- Ensure knowledge of the presence of asbestos
- Circulate that knowledge
- Allocate responsibility & obtain indemnities under agreements (leases, woks contracts)
- Engage sophisticated managers
- Prepare and implement asbestos management plan
- Obtain information (asbestos register) and warranties from landlords
- Disseminate information as appropriate (contractors, staff, agents)
- Allocate responsibility under agreements (lease, fit-out contracts)
- Prepare asbestos management plan
- Appoint an asbestos coordinator
- Asset / Property Managers
- Obtain information regarding asbestos
- Conduct regular reviews
- Implement asbestos management plans
- Mirror landlord / tenant best practice (depending upon principal)
- Know extent of responsibility under management agreement
- Engage experts where required.
The above represents best practice. However numerous tricky circumstances arise, whether or not best practice has been implemented. In those circumstances, consider speaking to your solicitors or occupational health and safety experts.
David Krolikowski, Director, KHQ Lawyers