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9th February 2011

Investing in Commercial Property– Do You Need An Asbestos Survey?

Investing in new commercial premises can be a costly and adventurous decision. For many it is however a logical progression and essential to ensuring the growth of an organisation. When looking at a commercial property investment there are a great number of factors to be considered – from the price, location and renovation requirements; through to the legal arrangements and finance planning. If the property you are looking at was constructed or worked on between 1950 and 1999 there is another absolutely essential aspect to look into in order to stay on the right side of the law and ensure that the building is safe for occupation: whether asbestos is present and if so; the risk of exposure to asbestos containing materials it may present.

In accordance with the HSE’s Control of Asbestos Regulations, duty holders are legally obligated to manage asbestos in non-domestic properties and similarly, are accountable in the eyes of the law for shortcomings on this front. The dangers of asbestos are widely acknowledged and the fatalities directly attributable to exposure to asbestos containing materials in the workplace increase year on year. With responsibilities on both legal and ethical fronts, there’s no playing down the importance of thorough assessment of the potential presence of asbestos in a corporate premises – before moving in staff or undertaking refurbishment.

The first and arguably most important step to take in ensuring compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations is the undertaking of an asbestos survey. The asbestos survey is a comprehensive examination of a property which ascertains whether asbestos containing materials are present. If they are found within the building then an asbestos management plan needs to be drawn up which details the potential hazard presented by the asbestos and establishes whether it would be safer for the material to be moved or to be left in situ. Asbestos surveys often entail not only a physical examination of the property but can also involve laboratory analysis of specimens in a number of instances. The overall procedure can be complex and it is absolutely imperative that it is performed accurately and by someone with experience in both identifying asbestos and establishing the best course of action to follow if it is found.

Although unlikely to be at the top of a potential property investor’s list of considerations – the employment of an expert asbestos surveyor is of the upmost importance, particularly when commercial property is involved. The dangers presented by asbestos exposure cannot be downplayed, and nor can the criminal proceedings which can result from negligence on this front.

If you would like to discuss asbestos surveys, asbestos management or any other issue touched on in this blog then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team.

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