Asbestos Survey - In 1999 the use of asbestos in building materials was banned and legislation brought in to regulate disposal of existing asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACMs).
Asbestos had been used extensively in UK construction for decades before the ban and even now there remains a great many buildings that contain asbestos.
Why You May Need An Asbestos Survey
An Asbestos Survey is a vital activity to prevent workers and residents of a building from contracting serious illness! Asbestos contains small fibres that can be released into the air when the materials are disturbed. These fibres, if inhaled into the lungs can cause serious illness including cancer, leaving workers and other employees at risk if working in such an environment without the correct procedures and safety equipment.
Even after being banned for 20 years, a recent report by Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) noted that at least 5000 a year people were still losing their lives to asbestos-related conditions, and that asbestos is still present in at least 500,000 buildings in the UK today!
IOSH chief executive Bev Messinger, said:
“It is unacceptable that 20 years on from asbestos being banned in Britain, organisations are still potentially putting at risk the lives of employees, their families and other members of the public.
“Thousands die in Britain every year from cancers like mesothelioma, while many more are diagnosed with it.
“All this is preventable through good occupational safety and health. It is time for organisations to wake up and realise how dangerous asbestos is. There are no excuses." - https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2019/03/31/asbestos-still-killing-5000-britons-year-20-years-ban/
In order to understand the risks posed by older buildings it is necessary to have an asbestos inspection carried out by a qualified professional surveyor - these inspections are known as Asbestos Surveys.
What is an Asbestos Survey
An asbestos survey is a physical inspection of a property looking for asbestos or ACMs.
A qualified asbestos surveyor will visit the site and as a result of the inspection take way a small sample of the material suspected to contain asbestos for testing.
During the inspection the surveyor will visit each room in a building and note in their report which materials have been used in the construction of the room.
When a surveyor encounters a room that is not accessible, they will make a presumption that asbestos is contained in the room. This is a health and safety procedure in order to protect any person who may need to access the room in the future.
When is an Asbestos Survey required?
It is a legal requirement that any non-domestic premises that was built before 2000 must have a professional asbestos survey carried out by a qualified asbestos surveyor. The duty of care for this falls on any individual who owns or maintains a building constructed prior to 2000 and the penalties for failing to adhere to these requirements are severe.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 makes clear that if someone is exposed to asbestos on a site which has not had an up-to-date survey then those responsible will be facing serious legal consequences.
For buildings that will continue to be used as is - that is, they are not going to be demolished or significantly refurbished - will need to undergo a process of asbestos identification by having an Asbestos Management Survey carried out.
This is as described above - a visual survey with little interference to the building's structure.
Asbestos Management Survey
The management survey is designed to manage any ACMs during the regular use and occupation of the building.
The primary aims of the management survey are threefold;
firstly to ensure that ACMs are identified and that nobody is harmed by them.
Secondly that the ACMs remain intact in and in good condition
Thirdly, that any ACMs are not disturbed by accident
Overall the survey must identify ACMs and note any that may become damaged as a result of the regular activities carried out at the premises, by installing new equipment, or any future refurbishment or maintenance that may be completed.
The management survey can be minimally intrusive, as the surveyor may well decide to make a Materials Assessment, which involves disturbing the ACMs in order to make an assessment of whether harmful fibres are released into the air by the act of disturbance, which in turn dictates which next steps, if any, are required.
Asbestos Demolition Survey
For buildings that are to be refurbished or demolished then a more comprehensive and intrusive survey will be required - a ‘Refurbishment/Demolition’ survey (historically a ‘Type 3’ survey).
This demolition survey will be more destructive to the property as the surveyor will need to access all areas where work is to be carried out and such an undertaking is likely to require the involvement of other professionals.
In order to gain access to lift shafts a lift engineer would be required, whilst an electrician is likely to be necessary to access electrical systems and switchgear. It is also likely that the surveyor will need to check below floor slabs so a concrete core drilling operator would also be required.
The twin aims of a demolition survey are;
that there is no danger of harm as a result of any work carried out on ACMs present,
and that the work required will be completed by a qualified and compliant contractor according to the legal standards.
Before any refurbishment or demolition work can be carried out an asbestos survey must be completed and all ACMs on site must be identified, the areas vacated and then certified 'fit for reoccupation' after the survey.
Asbestos continues to pose serious health risks to those exposed to its fibres and individuals or other entities who maintain or own a non-domestic property constructed prior to the year 2000, have a legal obligation for asbestos safety at that property.
That means that an asbestos survey must carried out, any findings acted on and the property must be managed and be re-inspected regularly to identify any asbestos present in order to protect any staff, contractors or others who may be working on site.
If no significant refurbishment is taking place an Asbestos Management Survey would need to be completed, however, if refurbishments are planned, or the building is to be demolished, then the more intrusive Asbestos Demolition Survey will be required.
Neglecting to fulfil this duty of care will result in serious legal ramifications for the duty of care holder.
At Inner City Environmental we have a highly experienced asbestos survey team who have carried out hundreds of inspections between them - you can contact them now on 01322 273517
Or simply complete the form below to request a call back to either book your survey or discuss what specific requirements you may have.