Asbestos in the construction industry

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral silicate that is mined for use in building materials.


Asbestos has been found to be a hazardous substance and needs to be handled with care. When asbestos is disturbed it releases invisible fibres which can present serious health risks when breathed in and can be fatal (cancer).

The three main types of asbestos which were used in the UK in the twentieth century are:

  • Crocidolite, commonly known as ‘blue’ asbestos
  • Amosite, commonly known as ‘brown’ asbestos
  • Chrysotile, commonly known as ‘white’ asbestos

Although the use of asbestos is banned in the UK, it can still be found in many 20th century buildings.  Therefore the people who are most at risk from asbestos now are workers who disturb it without realising it is there while carrying out their work. The people at risk include surveyors who carry out inspections of buildings, as well as people repairing, altering, extending or demolishing buildings.

A great many chartered surveyors are likely to come across asbestos in the course of their work and RICS is responsible for providing guidance and training to our members to help them manage all aspects of it including awareness of asbestos and the legal and professional indemnity insurance implications and compliance with government regulations.

Many of our members are qualified to conduct asbestos surveys. These can include inspections of a property to establish whether asbestos is present, taking samples and tests to identify asbestos, advising on an effective management plan, and removing asbestos from a property.

To find surveyors who specialise in asbestos, select Asbestos and Hazardous Materials in ‘advanced options’ and ‘Area of practice’.

A wide selection of guidance is available to raise your awareness of asbestos and ensure that people who have to work with asbestos can minimise the dangers.

The Health and Safety Executive is the key UK government source for finding out about all aspects of asbestos.

For  further information contact our library team.

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