RICS Asbestos 4th edition consultation draft

1 Introduction

Asbestos is the general term used for a group of six fibrous silicate minerals. Any product or material containing one or more of these fibrous silicates falls within the legal definition of asbestos. The risk from particular asbestos containing materials (ACMs) is determined by their friability: the ease with which they release fibres. The higher the friability, the greater the potential risk.

The presence of ACMs in buildings has been linked to a range of diseases. All types of asbestos are classified as Group 1 carcinogens by the WHO. This classification is given to substances that are known to be carcinogenic to humans. Worldwide, more than 107,000 people die each year from asbestos exposure, and over 5,500 of these deaths occur in the UK (see appendix F).

The widespread use of asbestos has implications for the following RICS professional groups and pathways:

  • building control
  • building surveying
  • commercial property
  • dispute resolution
  • environment
  • facilities management
  • geomatics
  • machinery and business
  • management consultancy
  • minerals and waste
  • personal property and fine art
  • planning and development
  • project management
  • quantity surveying
  • residential
  • rural practice and
  • valuation.

For further information on how each professional group is affected, see Table 1 in section 3.

The prevention of exposure to asbestos is a legal requirement for all organisations, including property-related businesses. The requirement for such prevention has been put in place in many countries across the globe, and across industry sectors and governmental organisations, in order to protect individuals from harm. Property professionals are legally required to recognise and accept personal responsibility for preventing exposure to asbestos and minimising risks.

The hazards posed by asbestos to RICS members and RICS regulated firms include:

  • to a member's own health
  • to employees' health
  • to clients' health
  • criminal prosecution
  • reputational damage to self and client
  • economic damage to self and client
  • civil damages and
  • bringing RICS into disrepute.

Details of potential risks are set out in chapter 4.