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Asbestos - information for ALL members of the Department

This page contains the following information:

A printable copy of this page is available here (document A2)


The Head of Department has overall responsibility for identifying and controlling risk inherent to the activities of all departmental staff, students and visitors, as set out in the University of Cambridge Health and Safety Policy, but has delegated the role of co-ordinating departmental safety arrangements to other members of staff.

Persons coordinating the local procedures for asbestos management will be supported by University specialists competent to advise and they should be consulted whenever advice, guidance or further information is needed.

The principle is that asbestos-containing materials are identified, and their condition monitored. The Department has a strict rule that asbestos-containing materials are not to be disturbed, worked on or damaged. Further information is available under the heading 'prohibitions on work'.

All proposed building work must be notified to the Laboratory Superintendent. Any minor work required inside office spaces or laboratories which will involve drilling or screwing things to walls or panels must be arranged through the Maintenance team, in order to ensure that asbestos materials and asbestos debris are not disturbed. Where refurbishment works are carried out, a licensed contractor is called in to remove the asbestos materials. Removal is not always complete - for example, often the cladding around the structural steel columns is left in place. Clearance certificates are obtained and stored by the Safety Officer, or in the Health and Safety files when they arise from refurbishment projects.

While asbestos-containing materials remain in good condition they are often left in place. Any removal work must be done under strictly controlled conditions using specialist contractors. Damage to asbestos-containing materials must be reported and advice obtained on their remediation.

The Department maintains an action plan in relation to asbestos. (document A4)


Departmental Organisation

Person of Authority (Head of Department) Professor Andy Parker
Location of Asbestos register Information and Records Asbestos online (requires user name and password)
Departmental Contact (Person coordinating procedures and records held) Peter Norman
Contact in absence of coordinator Keith Matthews, Jane Blunt

University Contacts

Safety Office, 16 Mill Lane Tel: 01223 3 33301 
Estate Management (EM) Asbestos Team
74 Trumpington Street, Cambridge
Tel: 01223 7 66760 
University of Cambridge Asbestos Management Plan 
EM Asbestos Team

Asbestos Materials Present in the Department

The fabric of the building

The West Cambridge and Madingley rise sites contain 9 buildings occupied by Physics. The Mott, Rutherford, Link and Bragg buildings were constructed in the 1970s and it is probable that they are Mark 4B CLASP buildings. These contain a great many asbestos materials.

The buildings that contain asbestos materials within the fabric of the building are:

  • Rutherford
  • Link (EM usually call this the Workshop building)
  • Bragg
  • Mott
  • Garage

Those that may contain asbestos materials in the fabric of the building (built between 1990 and 2000) are:

  • Microelectronics/Hitachi
  • Kapitza (formerly known as IRC in Superconductivity)

Those which were built after 2000, and which do not contain asbestos in the fabric of the building:

  • Physics of Medicine
  • The Battcock Centre

The Lord's Bridge site contains many buildings, all originating in an era when asbestos materials were widely used.

Estate Management commissioned a type 2 survey in 2002, and a follow-up survey was conducted in 2006. These surveys were limited and were unable to identify asbestos materials that were hidden from view.

The results of these surveys are in the online database 'Asbestos Online'. These records are accessible via the following people in the Department:

  • Laboratory Superintendent, Peter Norman
  • Maintenance Manager, Keith Matthews
  • Safety Officer, Jane Blunt

The typical locations of asbestos-containing materials in the buildings on the West Cambridge Site include:

  • The cladding around the steel columns
  • Panels above windows and doors
  • Panels lining the stairwells
  • Battens on the perimeter of suspended ceilings
  • Window sills
  • An interior layer within the fire doors
  • Floor tiles.

Further investigations were undertaken in 2011-12, which revealed further asbestos deposits above the ceiling tiles in certain areas, and in the underfloor service areas. As a result of these investigations certain walls have been identified as areas of increased risk, since drilling into these walls is capable of disturbing loose asbestos fibres. For this reason NO work involving fixing things to the walls shall be undertaken without gaining explicit approval from the Laboratory Superintendent or Head of Maintenance. These restrictions apply to the Mott, Bragg, Link, Garage and Rutherford Buildings.

Many of the visible materials have been labeled with a discreet white label bearing a sample number and a date. Some typical samples are shown in the photographs.

photo1 photo2

The visible asbestos-containing boarding has all been encapsulated or sealed. The condition of these materials is generally good, having been re-inspected and remedial work done in early 2007. While these materials remain in good condition the risk to people entering and/or working in the department is low.

The pillars which support the building structure remain an area of concern, as these were originally all clad with asbestos. In some CLASP buildings these have been damaged by furniture movements and, when struck, in some buildings asbestos fibres have been released from the casing. During remediation works in January 2007, air monitoring was carried out by Redhill Analysts, some of it close to pillars. Their report created 23/1/07 indicates that no elevated fibre counts were reported in these buildings.

Pillars that are vulnerable to damage include those supporting the bridge across the goods-in area. These have been given additional protection with angle-aluminium and bollards to reduce the likelihood of damage by vehicles.


Old Equipment

There is a strong possibility that there is equipment in the department that contains asbestos. This is most likely for furnaces, gloves and clamps. Please would members of staff who own old equipment (pre 1999) read the document Asbestos in old equipment (document A7).

If you have equipment that contains asbestos it is acceptable to continue to use it, if it is in good condition. If you have such a piece of equipment, please ensure that you notify the Safety Officer, so that it can be entered into the asbestos register, and ensure that people who use the equipment are fully informed about the presence of asbestos and how to avoid the risk of disturbing it. Items such as gloves, clamps etc should be wrapped in a sturdy plastic bag, sealed and handed to the Safety Officer for disposal. It is not permissible to transfer equipment containing asbestos to a building that is asbestos-free.


When does Asbestos Present a Danger?

Asbestos is the cause of mesothelioma and lung cancers. For this to occur the fibres must be inhaled and therefore, provided the material does not become airborne, it does not pose a significant risk. There is a lot more information on the HSE website at this location.

Virtually all the asbestos materials that are visible are covered with paint, which encapsulates the material and prevents the release of fibres. Keeping this paint in good condition is therefore a priority. Please do not stick posters to them using blu-tack, sticky tape or by other means. Please avoid hitting the materials or the cladding of the structural steel with tables, chairs, gas bottles, trolleys etc. If you do this by accident, please follow the emergency procedures below.

However, above the ceilings there is some loose sprayed asbestos, which has been there since the buildings were erected. It is important not to disturb this.


Prohibitions on work

No person in the laboratory is permitted to enter the ceiling voids or the sub-floor voids, or to drill into the walls, unless under a safe system of work devised and implemented by Maintenance, supported by the Asbestos team in Estate Management. These restrictions apply to the Garage, Mott, Bragg, Link and Rutherford Buildings.


Acquisition and transfer of equipment and property 


This includes the acquisition of equipment, whether new or not, the transfer of equipment from one institution to another and the movement of equipment from one building to another.

It is prohibited to newly introduce asbestos materials to any building. This includes items sourced by purchase, import, hire, lease, loan, second hand purchase, gifted or exchanged, as specified within the stipulations of current asbestos legislation. Vigilance is needed to avoid asbestos materials being introduced, especially when a department is moving into new premises.


This includes purchase, lease in, sale, leased out or occupancy of shared space and/or any other informal & temporary arrangements for staff being accommodated in buildings not under the control of the University (See documents A12 and A13)

EM Property Team must be contacted ahead of all property transactions.

The key actions will include:

1. When disposing of property, ensuring that all relevant asbestos information relating to the property is provided to the purchaser/new lessee.

2. When acquiring property, ensuring that all asbestos information relating to the property is received prior to completion of purchase or grant of new lease.

3. Undertaking an assessment of the current level of asbestos compliance, duty holder identification and inherent asbestos liability.

4. Ensuring the information received is brought up to date and in line with other documents held (e.g. undertake a Management Survey if information is not held for the property).

5. Update the University Asbestos Register – Online Asbestos Register.



All persons whose work makes them liable to come into contact with asbestos, or who manage or supervise such employees require training.

Such training consists of:

  • Asbestos awareness training, and refresher training, for staff whose work makes them liable to come into contact with asbestos. This includes maintenance, the workshops,  and computer support staff,
  • Asbestos management training for those who plan and manage works,
  • E-learning for the approved users of the Online Asbestos Register for system navigation purposes.

Training records are kept in the Department Training Records, accessible from the Safety Officer's computer.

Further information on the training programme is available via this link. (document A8)


What to do if you find some materials that you think could be asbestos, or if a material is damaged

Members of the Department and Contractors must report the following to the Laboratory Superintendent or the Safety Officer immediately

  • any discovery of material that might contain asbestos, such as mats which have been stored in drawers, gaskets on furnaces, clamps or gloves.
  • any damage to asbestos-containing materials. This could include events such as a collision between a trolley and an asbestos panel or one of the structural pillars.

If asbestos is damaged, or asbestos is discovered which is unexpected during the course of a project, the following actions must be taken:

  1. Immediately clear the area of all personnel and isolate the area, e.g. if in a single room, close all the doors. Turn off air conditioning/warm air systems if possible.
  2. Prohibit access to the area.
  3. Inform the Laboratory Superintendent, Maintenance Manager or Safety Officer.
  4. Inform the Asbestos team at EM, details below.
EM Asbestos team 01223 (7) 66760
Out of hours emergency number 07919058321
Address Asbestos Management
Estate Management
University of Cambridge
74 Trumpington Street

 This information is also found in the Emergency procedures document (document A6).


CAW2012, Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, SI 632


Asbestos Policies, Guidance Documents and Check Sheets


Document No.TitleVersion No.Date
A1 Coordination of Safety Arrangements 1 February 2015
A2 Asbestos information for ALL members of the Department 1 November 2014
A3 Asbestos information for management: Maintenance and Small Works 1 February 2015
A4 Departmental Action Plan 2 November 2014
A5 Checksheet for review of Department System 1 February 2015
A6 Emergency Procedures 2 February 2015
A7 Asbestos in old equipment 1 February 2015
A8 Asbestos awareness training policy 2 February 2015
A9 Wall drilling procedures for W010, W011, W012, W013, W014 Version 2 issue 1 January 2015
A10 Wall drilling assessment form V2 1bv2 March 2015
A11 Asbestos awareness slides and handout 1 February 2015
A12 Acquisition and disposal of property 1 February 2015
A13 Embedded accommodation 1 February 2015
A14 Refurbishment protocol 1 February 2015
A15 Information Management 1 February 2015
A16 Project Manager's checklist 1 February 2015
A17 Room/area Risk Check Sheet (Excel) 1 May 2014
A18 Audit form to oversee asbestos removal works 1 February 2015
A19 University rules for conducting asbestos removal works 1 February 2015
A20 Glossary of terms 1 February 2015
A21 Applicable law 1 February 2015
A22 Control of asbestos regulations 2012 2012
A23 Asbestos survey types 1 February 2015
A24 Assessment algorithms 1 February 2015
A25 Good practice guide for the asbestos register 1 February 2015
A26 About asbestos online; The University asbestos register 1 February 2015


This page was last updated 18th March 2015