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Client quote: “It’s interesting to see that there are still areas of the market getting spooked by the mere presence of asbestos and I can’t believe that you’re being asked for an opinion as to whether a contractor can paint an artexed ceiling.”

The large insurance group client had recently been told of an Asbestos Awareness training provider, training one of their suppliers, insisting on Textured Coating (Artex™) being tested, even if it is to be involved in the simplest task such as a fresh coat of paint. The rationale behind this is that it may contain asbestos.

On Advice consider that testing all Artex regardless of the scope of work is overkill and is beyond the realms of reasonably practicableness.

The key to any decision like this, is in the phrase, ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. This term means that the degree of risk in a particular situation can be balanced against the time, trouble, cost and physical difficulty of taking measures to avoid the risk. Within the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012, both the duty to prevent or reduce exposure to (CAR Reg 11), or spread of (CAR Reg 16) asbestos, is stated in terms of reasonable practicability.

Regulation 6 of CAR Assessment of Work states “6.—(1) An employer must not carry out work which is liable to expose employees of that employer to asbestos…unless a suitable and sufficient risk assessment has been carried out”. If a contractor considers they need to cover all bases, an assessment could be carried out for painting artex, recording that there is no risk of exposure. There is a process diagram in HSG 213 Asbestos Essentials (Page 8), the first box is ‘Does the work disturb asbestos’, to which a ‘no’ response leads to a box stating ’no further action is required’. When referring to the task listed above, i.e. applying a fresh coat of paint to an artexed surface which is intact, the answer is no. Carrying out the steps in this guidance satisfies CAR Regulation 6. There are more technical aspects, that could be covered on a case by case basis please use the Contact Us page if you require further assistance.

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