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Asbestos flower tubs?

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Wednesday 4 June 2003 12.05pm
I live in Becket House, Tabard Gardens and have this huge painted flower tub outside my flat, too big and heavy to move without mechanical assistance. There seem to be a few about outside other people's flats too. I was told by a neighbour yesterday that it might be made of asbestos (don't know the origin of the rumour). Good timing as I was about to sand and repaint the thing. I have no idea if it is made of asbestos or how to go about finding out. It's certainly man-made, could be asbestos, fibre galss, very tough thick plastic, whatever. Naturally phoned Southwark Council and got palmed off. Called Tabard Gardens TMC and am awaiting a call from 'someone' (won't hold my breath).

Has anyone had any experience with this kind of thing before? Who ARE the best people to get in touch with? I would have thought the council would bend over backwards to get it sorted as they are liable - it's on their property and they (or a contractor) appear to have provided the tubs in the first place as there are a number around. Any advice much appreciated.
Wednesday 4 June 2003 2.52pm
This website contains information on public buildings, but you can run analysis on where you live as well:

Hope this helps.

Tuesday 10 June 2003 10.56am
Firstly Ant I need to say that these pots as you rightly point out are the property of Southwark Council and you should therefore not alter this property without the Councils' express permission.

Asbestos had been widely used in Southwark Housings' stock pre 1980 (approximately) much of the installed asbestos has now been removed or managed. So the first question with your flower pot is how old is it? If it is post 1980 then it is unlikely to contain asbestos. If it is pre 1980 then it is likely that it will contain asbestos and therefore should be left alone.

As stated earlier asbestos was extensively used in Housing and it was mixed in with many items, many of which would not normally be associated with needing to have asbestos in it. This is because one of the chararactisics of asbestos is that it is a very hard wearing material and therefore was put in items such as step nosings, floor tiles and external panels to tower blocks ect. With the first two examples the asbestos fibres are so tightly attached to the plastic polymers that there will be no fibre release and therefore one comes to the point about managing asbestos. If these pots were pre 1980 then they may well have asbestos in them the management of this asbestos is simply not to disturb it.

I hope this is of some help

David Partington
Southwark Housing
Health and Safety Manager.
Wednesday 11 June 2003 11.29am
Thanks for the reply. That has shed some light on the situation. I have since received an email from John Everrett at Tabard Gardens TMC stating much the same - yes they are not pose a risk unless tampered with...policy to 'manage' them rather than remove them.

That's all well and good but good management practice might be to let those that come into direct contact with the materials know what they are and what they should and shouldn't do to them to avoid a health risk. 'Management' is not doing NOTHING. You may have decided that it is best to manage them by 'simply not disturbing them' but unless those residents that have asbestos flower pots outside their homes know this, it counts for nothing.

If it were an employer/employee relationship you would have failed in your duty of care to protect your employees because you haven't made them aware of the hazard and would be liable for potential health problems.

The reason that I was going to sand and paint the tub is that it is a gopping pink colour, nowhere on the tub does it state that it's the property of Southwark Council and it certainly isn't maintained by Southwark Council (just 'managed' apparently).

May I suggest that as 'managers' of these asbestos flower pots you make all residents on Tabard Gardens that have the pots outside their flats aware of the fact they contain asbestos and inform them that they are 'simply not to disturb them'. I would guess you may well be inundated with similar requests to the one which I am about to put forward - I personally would like y-o-u-r pot removed.

<<This has also been emailed directly to David Patington and John Everet>>

Post edited (11 Jun 03 16:59)
Thursday 26 June 2003 3.52pm

Paint it/ them with a good quality emulsion paint, it will provide extra protection from the elements. This is the course of action reccommended by various internet site regarding asbestos garages, sheds etc. I have seen those flower pot things and always assumed they were concrete.

I can remember only a few years back being told that it was only brown or blue asbestos that was dangerous. apparently they based that premise on the fact that when they carried out post mortems they could see the tiny fibres of blue or brown asbestos in the lungs. They missed the fibre of white asbestos!

Thats why I always question the 'expert'.
Friday 27 June 2003 9.52am
Well, the saga continues. Had a meeting with John Everret the new director of Tabard Gardens TMC about this and other issues. He's happy to have them removed and wants to ask the residents' opinions. He even talked about replacing them with something more benign <sharp intake of breath!>. Since then things have gone cold apparently as a result of using a the TMC Vice Chair, Bill Stalham, as a postman who has other ideas about delivering the letters. The issue has been dragged into the syrupy quagmuire of petty Tabard gardens TMC back biting and fuedal politics politics politics...yawn...what a pigging surprise!

Anyway, I shall persist.

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