29th February 2016
Asbestos Surveys… Do i need one?
Everyone has heard of asbestos, and the fact that exposure to it can be harmful to people’s health.
The reality is that historically, the dangers of asbestos were not well known. This, coupled with the fact that asbestos was readily available, relatively cheap to mine and manipulate, and had many positive qualities including durability and good insulation; meant that it was extensively used by building companies within the UK for many years.
Over time, health professionals began to identify a link between debilitating breathing diseases and certain cancers, and exposure to asbestos dust within a patient’s lifetime. This resulted in a ban on the use of certain types of asbestos, initiating in 1985, with a total ban being enforced in 1999.
The resultant effect was that buildings built post 2000 could not be constructed using any Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM), however any buildings built prior to that year, may, or may not contain ACMs.
Where an ACM is maintained in good condition, its presence does not pose a threat to human health. ACMs are dangerous when deteriorating or disturbed as they release fibrous dust that can lodge and cause scar tissue in the human body.
Within the UK, asbestos specific Health & Safety legislation was therefore brought in to practise, with the most recent version being the The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (COAR 2012).
These regulations place a duty on owners of ‘non-domestic’ buildings to identify any ACMs present within their properties, and then manage them accordingly. The management of ACMs can involve the following:
- Complete removal
- Leave to remain in-situ if considered safe to do so
In order to determine the best course of action, a ‘competent person’ is required to have undertaken an Asbestos Survey on the premises in question.
There are 3 types of survey that could be undertaken on a non-domestic property, dependent on the building’s circumstances. These are as follows:
An Asbestos Management Condition Survey
The purpose of this survey is to locate the presence and extent of any ACMs within the building which could be damaged or disturbed during the normal course of occupancy, including foreseeable maintenance and installation; and to assess their condition and likelihood to release fibres.
Following sampling and the resultant laboratory analysis, a register of ACMs within the building would be devised, with guidance as to whether removal, encapsulation or remaining in-situ is the best course of action for that ACM.
An Asbestos Management Condition Re-Inspection Survey
In order to comply with the ‘duty to manage’ element of the COAR 2012, continual monitoring of ACMs within a non-domestic premises by a ‘competent person’ is required at regular intervals.
This survey involves re-visiting any ACMs identified in an Asbestos Management Condition Survey, and assessing their current state i.e. have they deteriorated or become disturbed in the interim time period.
The original register of ACMs would then be updated with new guidance provided on removal, encapsulation or remain in-situ.
An Asbestos Refurbishment and Demolition Survey
Both inspection and re-inspection surveys concentrate on ACMs which building users may be exposed to during normal occupancy. This means that they are on the whole non-intrusive and would not scrutinise cavities or areas sealed off within the building.
Where contractors are to begin work on a building, or section of that building, an intrusive survey, potentially involving aggressive inspection techniques is required to identify any ACMs that the contractors may encounter.
It is often the case that, where identified, a specialist Asbestos Removal contractor is required to remove any ACMs prior to the intended works commencing.