Asbestos in Soil: RPS advises on new CIRIA-produced guide.

09 May 2017

RPS has advised on new guidance aimed to help site workers identify asbestos in soils and know what to do if it is found during brownfield site redevelopment. Produced by CIRIA, the guide is entitled ‘Asbestos in soil and made ground practice site guide’.


As more land owners, contractors and developers have become more aware of their liabilities and responsibilities associated with asbestos in soils there has been a growing need for clear guidance, from site clearance and land remediation design and planning through to the practical advice to site workers.

Materials containing asbestos can be present in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000. Consequently, asbestos in soils is a potential hazard on any twentieth century built site or land where building materials have been stored or disposed, including construction wastes and demolition debris. When asbestos fibres are broken down, buried and smeared with soil they become very difficult to distinguish to the untrained eye, therefore it is essential that site workers are trained to identify asbestos, or the risk of, as it is first discovered.

Existing regulations apply to all work with asbestos including asbestos contaminated soils and these set minimum standards for the protection of employees from risks related to exposure to asbestos. Compliance with such regulations is therefore required when undertaking work on all such sites, including work on soil and construction and demolition materials. However, in the past guidance has commonly focused on working within buildings.

CIRIA and CL:AIRE both produced industry guidance on the application of CAR 2012 to soils and construction and demolition materials. However, despite this it was still felt that basic asbestos awareness with knowledge of management and control measures may not be adequate for companies with workers involved with demolition, site clearance and excavations on sites with the potential for asbestos contaminated soils to exist.

In response to the above, CIRIA initiated a research project to provide practical guidance addressing the issue of encountering asbestos in soils during site redevelopment. RPS sponsored and advised on its development as part of a steering group also including the HSE, the Chartered Institution of Environmental Health and other relevant parties.

Drawing upon our extensive experience in site characterisation, remediation and ground engineering, RPS contributed throughout the production process. Our contribution has included: confirming the objectives and defining the scope and method for the project; advising on the existence of other potentially conflicting works; advising on other organisations which could be approached to contribute to the technical content; reviewing drafts and agreeing the final structure, format and layout of the final publication.

Available to download here (for subscription holders), this new guide is a crucial addition to the information tool kit for safely managing expected and unexpected finds of asbestos on development sites.

For more information on what the guide includes, click here

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