What is an Asbestos Survey?
Did you know that exposure to asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK? Inhaling the miniscule fibres of this dangerous material can cause a number of illnesses, from mesothelioma to asbestosis to a thickening of the pleural lining of the lungs. These health complications can be very serious and often end up being fatal.
An asbestos survey is an effective way to help you manage asbestos in your premises, by putting together an accurate report about the amount, location and type of any materials that contain the deadly material. Although it is not a legal requirement, it is highly recommended that you take all appropriate precautions before any work takes place.
Asbestos can be present in many different forms in your building, including thermal insulation, pipe insulation, tank and roof insulation, insulation board, wall lining panels, fire resistant curtains, roof slates, partitioning, decking, floor tiles, textured coatings, window sills and much more. Of course, these are not the only ways that asbestos has been used in buildings over the years, which is why it is helpful to have an experienced and trained eye to identify the asbestos.
The asbestos survey includes sampling the materials and then analysing them, in order to determine the presence of the material. As this can be a very dangerous process, an asbestos survey should only be carried out by a competent surveyor who will be able to demonstrate that they have the necessary experience, skills and qualifications. A survey is the best way to ensure that the asbestos on the premises is being dealt with in the safest possible way, so that it will not pose a health risk.
What is the “Duty Holder” Responsible For?
The “Duty Holder” is the person who is responsible for the building and is required to manage the risk from asbestos. They are responsible for a number of aspects of this, including identifying the potential asbestos that are within the premises and making an assessment of their condition – as well as presuming that some materials within the building contain asbestos unless there is enough evidence to show that they do not.
Also, the duty holder is responsible for maintaining a record of the condition and location of the materials containing asbestos within the premises. They must assess the risk from the material, as well as prepare and implement a plan which details how the risk will be managed. If you are the duty holder, you should also review and monitor the management plan, as well as provide information about the condition of the materials. This information should be available to anyone who is liable to work on the asbestos.
If you own or occupy the building, you have a legal duty to manage the risk from the asbestos containing materials – or otherwise a duty to co-operate with whomever manages that particular risk. Hiring a professional company to carry out an asbestos survey is a very effective way to ensure that this is done correctly, adhering to all of the regulations and guidelines of the industry.
When Do I Need an Asbestos Survey?
If you have responsibility for a non-domestic property anywhere in the UK which was built before 2000, it is necessary to have an Asbestos management survey in place. Also, if the property has been proven to contain asbestos, you will need to carry out the survey according to this and perform a re-inspection annually. Also, if you have a property that was constructed prior to 2000 and you plan to undergo any demolition work or refurbishment – it is also required to have an asbestos survey.
It is important to adhere to these requirements, as they are set out by the Health and Safety Executive. If they are not followed, your business can be subject to fines.
The truth is that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos – even one fibre could cause the deadly mesothelioma. This is why an asbestos survey is so important, so that the number of deaths from exposure to this material can be decreased. Even if you suspect that your building might contain asbestos, it is better to be safe than sorry and you should always check before proceeding with renovations or building work.
How Does an Asbestos Survey Work?
When you hire a professional to perform an asbestos survey on your property, what should you expect? First of all, it will depend on whether the survey is designated for asbestos management, or for refurbishment and demolition. However, during the survey the inspector will carry out a walkthrough of the premises. During this stage, they will be looking for areas of the building which will be likely to contain asbestos – such as boiler rooms, pipe runs, ceiling voids and other sources.
After this, the surveyor will walk from room to room, searching for materials that contain asbestos. They will need to lift up the ceiling tiles, open up the risers, look under the carpets and much more so that they can access as many ideas as possible. All sections of the building must be accessed – which includes the basement rooms, the loft and the outside. During this time, the surveyor will photograph the suspect material, as well as making sketches of the room where the material was found. The next step is to remove a small amount of the suspicious material, so that it can be taken to be analysed.
After the surveyor has performed the tests on the material itself, they will complete an inspection report which will indicate where the asbestos was found – including information about the type of asbestos, a material risk assessment and the extent.
It will usually take around two or three weeks to complete the report, but sometimes the process can be sped up in an urgent case. Make sure that you do your research and hire a professional asbestos survey company that will be able to fully inspect your property and carry out the task in a safe and professional way.
Asbestos for Surveyors
Asbestos for Surveyors is a practical reference guide for all those responsible for identifying and dealing with asbestos in buildings. The book is based upon the Control of Asbestos at Work Act 2002 and is intended to be a guide to the technical aspects of asbestos and why it was originally used.