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Asbestos Regulations 2012 - Notifiable Non-Licensed Work

Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2012

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 came into force on 6 April 2012, updating previous asbestos regulations to take account of the European Commission's view that the UK had not fully implemented the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos (Directive 2009/148/EC).

In practice the changes are fairly limited. They mean that some types of non-licensed work with asbestos now have additional requirements, i.e. notification of work, medical surveillance and record keeping.

What is Notifiable Non-Licensed Work?

All non-licensed work needs to be carried out with the appropriate controls in place. But for notifiable non-licensed work (NNLW), employers also have additional requirements to:

notify work with asbestos to the relevant enforcing authority;

ensure medical examinations are carried out; and

maintain registers of work (health records).

Is my work Notifiable Non-Licensed Work?

Whether a type of asbestos work is either licensable, NNLW or non-licensed work has to be determined in each case and will depend on the type of work you are going to carry out, the type of material you are going to work on and its condition. The identification of the type of asbestos-containing material (ACM) to be worked on and an assessment of its condition are important parts of your risk assessment, which needs to be completed before you start work.

Firstly, decide if the work is exempt from licensing or not.

If the work is exempt from the need for a licence, you then need to determine if it is notifiable non-licensed work or non-licensed work. The key factors to consider are:

The type of work you are planning to do:

Maintenance, e.g. drilling holes to attach fittings or pass cables through, painting, cleaning etc. Maintenance includes some removal where it is incidental to the main task, e.g. removing an asbestos ceiling tile to allow inspection; or

Removal, e.g. as part of a refurbishment or redesign project; or

Encapsulation, e.g. work to enclose or seal asbestos materials in good condition; or

Air monitoring and control, and the collection and analysis of samples.

The asbestos type:

Is it friable? - the more friable a material is, the more likely it will release asbestos fibres when worked on and the greater the risk of exposure.  Work which disturbs more friable materials e.g. asbestos insulation will tend to be NNLW and work which disturbs the least friable materials e.g. asbestos cement can normally be treated as non-licensed work; and

How firmly is the asbestos bonded in a matrix? (For removal work only) – Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) where the asbestos is coated, covered or contained within another material, such as cement, paint or plastic are considered to be firmly bonded in a matrix, ACMs of this type in good condition can usually be treated as non-licensed work but where they are significantly damaged, and so more likely to release fibres, they will need to be treated as NNLW.

The material's condition:

Has the material been damaged or is it in poor condition? – removal of ACMs in poor condition e.g. due to flood or fire damage, will normally need to be treated as NNLW; and

Will the materials' matrix be destroyed when worked on? – e.g. deteriorating textured decorative coatings e.g. 'Artex' with gel or steam to remove it, will normally need to treated as NNLW.

It is the responsibility of the person in charge of the job to assess the ACM to be worked on and decide if the work is NNLW or non-licensed work. This will be a matter of judgement in each case, dependent on consideration of the above factors.

To help you, examples of NNLW include, (assuming in all cases exposure is sporadic and of low intensity and will not exceed the control limit):

minor, short duration, maintenance work involving asbestos insulation, e.g. repairing minor damage to a small section of pipe insulation where the exterior coating has been broken or damaged;

minor removal work involving AIB, when short duration and as part of a refurbishment project, e.g. removing AIB panels fixed with screws following water damage;

entry into the roof space above an AIB tiled ceiling, when no decontamination or cleaning has taken place;

removal work involving textured decorative coatings where the method of removal requires deterioration of the material, e.g. where the material is treated by steam, hydrating gel etc and scraped off the underlying surface, or where it is very badly flood-damaged;

removal of asbestos paper and cardboard products if not firmly bonded in a matrix;

removal of asbestos cement (AC) which is substantially degraded e.g. badly fire-damaged or de-laminated material, or where substantial breakage is unavoidable to achieve removal.

NNLW will not normally include the following, which will continue to be categorised as non-licensed work (which is not notifiable), (assuming in all cases exposure is sporadic and of low intensity and will not exceed the control limit):

short, non-continuous maintenance work involving AIB which is in good condition, e.g. drilling holes in AIB to attach a fitting or pass through a cable or pipe, cleaning light fittings attached to AIB, removing a door with AIB fire-proofing, or lifting ceiling tiles for inspection where there is no full-body entry into the roof space;

short, non-continuous maintenance work on asbestos cement (AC), e.g. work on weathered AC roof tiles;

removal of AC, which is kept virtually intact;

short, non-continuous maintenance work on textured decorative coatings, e.g. drilling holes, inserting screws or painting;

small-scale maintenance work with textured decorative coatings when this can be achieved without deterioration of the material, e.g. by careful cutting around backing sheets to achieve removal intact;

removal, for example, of gaskets or asbestos rope cords from heating appliances, which can be left in situ for disposal or can be lifted out virtually intact, without substantial breakage;

short, non-continuous maintenance work on clutch discs, brakes, friction products etc unless significant damage is required e.g. by power tools;

removal of floor tiles or bitumen felt, when done with the appropriate controls, e.g. inline with Asestos Essentials sheets A21 and A23 available at the HSE webiste listed below.

work to enclose or seal asbestos materials that are in good condition (and that do not require a licence);

air monitoring and control, and the collection and analysis of samples.

The HSE provide an illustration of asbestos work categories charts at the links below giving some examples of what work falls into the categories of licensed, NNLW and non-licensed.

If you determine that the work you are about to do is NNLW, this is how you comply with the additional requirements:


Employers need to notify the relevant enforcing authority of any NNLW with asbestos before work starts.

Medical Surveillance

By 30 April 2015, all workers carrying out NNLW will need to have had a medical examination. Examinations will then need to be repeated at least every 3 years, as long as the worker continues to do NNLW. After April 2015, workers carrying out NNLW for the first time will have to have an examination before they can start such work carried out by a licensed medical practioner and the doctor must issue a certificate to confirm the examination has taken place and on what date. The employer needs to keep this certificate for 4 years.

Record Keeping

Employers need to keep a register (health record) of NNLW with asbestos for each employee exposed to asbestos. This must include the nature and duration of work with asbestos and estimated exposure for each individual worker; and the dates of the worker's medical examinations.

Record keeping may be as simple as writing down the names of workers on the job on your copy of the notification or keeping copies of the notification form for each person carrying out NNLW work, as the notification copy will document the nature of the job and type of asbestos from which likely exposure can be estimated.

More detailed medical records will be kept by the doctor;

Registers of work (health records) must be kept for 40 years (and offered to HSE or the individual concerned should the business cease trading);

The need to record exposure does not mean that every non licensed task must have air sampling. There will often be published exposure figures or knowledge within the industry about exposures found at similar lower risk work done in the past. If a task is unusual sampling may be required.

Additional Reading:

Introduction to Asbestos Hazards
HSE Asbestos Essentials sheets A21 and A23;
illustration of asbestos work categories chart
online notifications form
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

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