DIY, asbestos and you

Emma Wightman

01 May 2015

As the bank holiday weekend approaches many of us will be considering carrying out DIY around the home.  However, homeowners must be vigilant in being able to identify any sources of asbestos and, if discovered, to call in specialist contractors to remove this in a safe manner.

The British Lung Foundation estimates that more than half of our homes in the UK contain asbestos.  Asbestos was a versatile product which was widely used both in commercial and residential property between the 1940s until it was banned in 1999.

There are various places where asbestos could be located around the home including:-

  • Asbestos cement which was typically moulded into corrugated sheeting and used for garage and outhouse roofing
  • Artex often used on internal ceilings
  • Asbestos boards which would be used on internal walls and sound hollow when knocked on
  • Asbestos roofing felt which was used on flat roofs or between brickwork and roofing in external buildings
  • Pipe lagging
  • Storage heaters also often contain asbestos bricks

At Francis Hanna & Company the majority of claims for victims who have been diagnosed with an asbestos related condition would be due to exposure to asbestos during the course of the victim’s employment many decades earlier.  Tragically, we also see cases where there was no occupational exposure to asbestos and the only exposure was at home in a domestic setting. 

One of our Partners, Martin Hanna who deals with these very tragic cases states:-

If you suspect that there may be asbestos present you should not go near it.  Whilst asbestos is generally safe if undisturbed, if broken it will release dust and particles into the air which could result in anyone breathing in these fibres developing an asbestos related condition in the future.  Therefore it is imperative to avoid asbestos if discovered and have a specialist contractor remove this safely.”

Our advice would be that in the event you are considering DIY and suspect that there is asbestos present is to always have this examined by a specialist prior to carrying out any work.  Asbestos comes in a variety of products and can often be difficult to spot.  Further guidance has been issued by the Health and Safety Executive of typical examples and this may be found at http://asbestos.hseni.gov.uk/galleries/. This small step may well prevent you from developing an asbestos related condition such as pleural plaques, pleural thickening, asbestosis, asbestos related lung cancer or malignant mesothelioma.

For more information please go to the Asbestos Claims section of our website or for a free, no obligation discussion please call 028 9024 3901 or contact us online using the contact us form.