Office for Nuclear Regulation

Sellafield – Inspection ID: 52143

Executive summary

Date(s) of inspection:

  • February 2023

Aim of inspection

To undertake a Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 compliance inspection on duty to manage at Estates and Utilities, exploring the implementation of duty holder arrangements for managing asbestos containing materials.

Inspection is related to a site wide Regulatory Issue relating to management of asbestos at Sellafield Limited and specific to the Conventional Health and Safety intervention plan for regulating Sellafield Limited.

Subject(s) of inspection

  • Asbestos (Duty to Manage) – Rating: AMBER

Key findings, inspector’s opinions and reasons for judgement made

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) undertook a planned ‘Duty to Manage’ asbestos inspection (Control of Asbestos Regulations 2021, Regulation 4) at Sellafield Ltd, within Estates and Utilities. The inspection scope focussed on compliance with the ‘Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR), Regulation 4 – Duty to Manage and Relevant Good Practice (RGP) as set out in ‘Managing and Working with Asbestos’ – Approved Code of Practice and Guidance (L143).

Sellafield Ltd has arrangements in place for the management of asbestos. The purpose of this inspection was to establish how effectively these arrangements were being implemented at facility level.

The inspection was conducted by a Conventional Health and Safety inspector and the Estates and Facilities Site Inspector.

There are known shortfalls in the quality of asbestos survey information at Sellafield Limited and, consequently, the asbestos risk is not fully understood across the site. Following previous enforcement action, prioritised surveying work is underway, however, there remain a significant number of buildings across site that do not have surveys that meet current standards, as set out in RGP: ‘Asbestos: The Survey Guide’ (HSG264).

Asbestos surveys within Estates and Utilities include ‘Management’ and ‘Type 2’ Surveys. Management surveys should meet the standards as set out in HSG264 and have no caveats (items excluded from the survey). Type 2 surveys have not been part of the asbestos legal framework since 2010 and may not, depending on the quality of information and whether there are any exclusions or caveats, meet current RGP. Of the surveys examined as part of the inspection a number were management surveys with caveats or type 2 surveys with caveats.

A sample of the asbestos management plans for Estates and Utilities included plans that did not meet the requirements of Regulation 4 of CAR and some very recent plans that met the requirements and appeared to be based on recent survey work carried out by UKAS accredited surveyors in accordance with HSG264.

This presents a mixed picture as to compliance with CAR within Estates and Utilities, with some shortfalls. An improvement programme to address the shortfalls is being developed.

The inspection provided some evidence to ONR that the asbestos containing materials (ACMs) within buildings currently managed by Estates and Utilities are being effectively managed on a day-today-basis. The ACMs inspected during the site walkdown were clearly labelled and in good condition. Controls are in place to ensure that work is not carried on the fabric of the building without first liaising with the asbestos coordinator and checking the asbestos register. Where necessary, asbestos sampling is undertaken before work commences.

However, without adequate management surveys, it is difficult to ascertain that a suitable and sufficient assessment of ACMs within this large group of buildings (many of which are readily in use and occupied by workers) has been made.

A level 3 Regulatory Issue will be raised requiring Sellafield Ltd (Estates and Utilities) to produce a resourced and timebound improvement plan for asbestos management to include a prioritised plan for survey work, risk assessment and production of asbestos management plans that comply with Regulation 4 of CAR.

The findings of the inspection at Estates and Utilities will inform a review of the extant site wide asbestos management regulatory issue, which, following recent findings by both ONR and Sellafield Ltd as to the level of compliance across the estate, will be revised to expedite progress with rectifying the site wide shortfalls.


On the basis of the evidence sampled for asbestos management within Estates and Utilities, it was concluded that an inspection rating of ‘Amber – Significant shortfall against an identified relevant good practice when compared with appropriate benchmarks’. This shortfall was specifically in relation to completion of asbestos surveys and management plans against the requirements of Regulation 4 of CAR.

ONR will review the shortfalls against the enforcement management model, within the context of shortfalls across site, to decide on an appropriate way forward. Estates and Utilities have developed an outline plan for closing the compliance gap in regard to Regulation 4 of CAR. ONR has obtained commitment that a more detailed, prioritised and timebound plan will be produced within six weeks of the intervention.

A level 3 Regulatory Issue will be raised requiring the production of a prioritised and timebound improvement plan for asbestos management within Estates and Utilities, subject to ONR governance.