Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge

Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, there is a responsibility placed against building owners to manage the risk from asbestos in their premises. SOCOTEC has worked with Fitzwilliam for nearly three years to help the College ensure that it is fully compliant in its management of asbestos.

The owner or the person responsible for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises has a ’Duty to Manage’ asbestos risk – colleges are no exception. At Fitzwilliam, the Maintenance Manager has been delegated the authority to manage and, as such, is responsible for the management of asbestos on site. With the majority of the College’s buildings having been constructed between 1960 and 2000, before the ban of asbestos use in 1999, the College is required by law to have a record of known or presumed asbestos containing materials, their current condition and a plan for how those materials are managed. SOCOTEC has worked with Fitzwilliam for nearly three years to help the College ensure that it is fully compliant in its management of asbestos. SOCOTEC’s asbestos consultancy works followed the below process:

Stage 1 – The Validation and Audit of Existing Information

In line with the College’s continual pursuit of improvement and best practice, SOCOTEC was requested to complete an audit and verification of existing asbestos information, processes and procedures. The information reviewed was in the form of management surveys, refurbishment surveys, asbestos removal certificates and sporadic data ranging from 30 years old to relatively new. The audit involved interviews with key stakeholders to identify roles and responsibilities, the review of old reports against current properties to determine on-going accuracy and the discussion of procedures, knowledge and information.

Stage 2 – Review of Findings & Proposals

Following completion, reviewing the audit findings with the College meant a proposal could be developed to transition the College to a state of full compliance – setting out a realistic timeline based on risk, budget, accessibility and stakeholder requirements. The proposal instigated the redefining of asbestos management processes and procedures.

Stage 3 – Prioritising Activities

Upon acceptance of the proposed plan, the highest priority activities were completed first and included: bespoke asbestos awareness training for appropriate teams, asbestos management surveys, re-inspection surveys to higher risk properties, the development of internal permits to work and the installation of a refurbishment survey request system prior to any intrusive works being completed.

Using SOCOTEC-designed temporary policies meant that the College had suitable policy and management plans in place - until it reached a stage where bespoke client specific policies and procedures could be created.

Readily Accessible Data

With a property portfolio as broad as Fitzwilliam College, it was identified that the introduction of an online asbestos management system would provide extensive benefits. At the point of audit, the data was held within multiple files across a number of offices with legacy data missing or incomplete. We sanitised the data by introducing the use of SOCOTEC’s online asbestos management system.

MiPortal provides a location for all asbestos data to be held and accessed from any web based location. The system also tracks any log-ins, downloads or any changes to documentation – which aids in meeting the varying asbestos management requirements under CAR Regulation 10.

By hosting all documentation centrally, client information is readily available and easy-to-access by all parties at any given time. When any building contractor arrives to complete maintenance works, the College can supply the contractor with full and accurate asbestos records – ensuring compliance with regulations. 

Bespoke Training

The training provided to the College’s staff was tailored to their roles and responsibilities to ensure information was relevant to employees in their duties. For example, plumbers on site were made aware of potential asbestos that could be located in bathrooms and other relevant areas. Where maintenance staff could potentially disturb low-risk ACMs, non-licensable work with asbestos training was provided. Additionally, gardeners and ground keepers were provided asbestos in soils awareness training to educate them on the potential risk of coming into contact with asbestos in the ground. In doing so, SOCOTEC could equip the College’s staff with the required information to be safe and compliant in their approach.


To save the College both time and money, SOCOTEC programmed the surveys to ensure that travel time was kept to a minimum and, when on site, a whole day of surveying could be completed. A single surveyor was used across the project for a consistent approach. Not only were the College staff familiar with seeing the same person on site, the surveyor developed a knowledge and understanding of the buildings and varying stakeholder requirements to provide an efficient, cost-effective service.

Partnership Approach

Another area in which SOCOTEC adopted a collaborative approach was the project management of asbestos removal. On each occasion, three asbestos removal companies were assessed in terms of quality, pricing and best-fit; SOCOTEC then recommended the most credible and suitable solution to meet the College’s requirements.

SOCOTEC continues to deliver refurbishment and demolition surveys where required across the College’s portfolio. Recent intrusive survey works include the review of confined space ducts under the central building and strategic surveying of doors and door sets.

The College has peace of mind that it has the processes and procedures in place to manage and control the presence of asbestos within its buildings to safeguard staff, students and contractors using the College. 

*Reproduced with permission of Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge and Marcus Ginns.

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