Asbestos surveys are one of the integral parts of the asbestos management plan. They help you in preventing the health risks associated with asbestos exposure. Asbestos contains indecomposable fibres and exposure to these fibres is proved to cause life-threatening conditions to the exposed people. Every year 2500 people in the UK lose their lives to mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma is primarily caused by long-term asbestos exposure. In 90% of mesothelioma cases, asbestos fibres were found in the lungs of the patients. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 has made it clear that a building with these two suspicions must undergo an asbestos survey.
- It was built before the banishment of the asbestos in the UK in 2000.
- The building has not been inspected for the presence of the asbestos.
The building owners in the UK have the following questions and confusions about the asbestos surveys.
What Type Of Asbestos Survey Do I Need For My Building?
Owners of the buildings constructed before 2000 in the UK are legally bound to manage any asbestos that may be found within their property. In order to be able to manage it, you first have to have it identified, and this is where the asbestos survey comes in. However, the requirements to choose the type of asbestos survey depend upon several factors.
Asbestos management surveys — Management surveys are comprehensive in nature as they are conducted to detect the asbestos presence in a building. These surveys are non-intrusive in nature, and no damage would be caused to the property during this process. Carpets may be lifted and areas unscrewed, to allow inspections to be undertaken, but no damage will be caused.
Pre-demolition asbestos surveys — These surveys are conducted before the demolition work starts in a building. Pre-demolition surveys are intrusive in nature and therefore an element of damage will be caused as they are designed to detect asbestos materials that may be hidden within within the building, even in minute quantities. Asbestos fibres tend to remain in the surrounding environment for several days. Demolition work can release vast amounts of asbestos debris which would be extremely harmful to anyone working and visiting such premises.
Asbestos refurbishment surveys — such kind of surveys are planned before the scheduled refurbishment work and like the demolition survey are intrusive in nature. However, surveyors only inspect the areas of the property that are to be affected by the renovation works, so this could only be a part of the property, or indeed the whole building.
Asbestos re-inspections — these surveys are part of the asbestos management plan. Re-inspections surveys can be conducted regularly at 12 month intervals. These surveys help in inspecting the current state of asbestos and devising the ways to contain its harmful effects.
Asbestos screening — It helps the surveyors to inspect the condition of damaged asbestos-containing materials after repair. The primary concern of asbestos screening is to ensure that repaired material does not pose any health risk.
Limited asbestos surveys — These surveys are conducted to inspect asbestos presence in the selected areas of a building. Targeted ACM sampling helps to take additional steps for asbestos handling in fragile areas of a building.
Soil surveys — asbestos fibres can also penetrate the soil. Asbestos contains microfibres which are not visible to the naked eye. Soil contaminated with asbestos can also cause asbestos-related diseases. Hence, a thorough analysis of the soil is required to eliminate potential health hazards.
What Happens During A Survey For Asbestos Detection?
During the asbestos survey, an expert and qualified team of surveyors visit the premises of the suspected building. Asbestos experts initially visit the building for potential and existing risk of asbestos exposure. After the first assessment, the surveyors start a more comprehensive examination of the suspected building. During the methodological examination, the surveyors collect samples of any potential suspect materials and take photographs for reference. Samples of suspected ACMs must be double bagged, are sent to a UKAS accredited laboratory for analysis to confirm whether asbestos is or is not present.
How Long Does an Asbestos Survey take?
The time required to conduct an asbestos survey varies due to certain factors. These factors include the size, age, use and occupancy of a building.
Type of the survey — For management asbestos surveys, these tend not to take as much time to complete on site as the Refurbishment/Demolition surveys. This is due to the R & D surveys intrusive nature, therefore more time on site would be required. Also it is not unusual for additional samples to be taken during this process.
Size of the inspected building — Larger buildings take much longer than the small premises. For controlling the asbestos hazards, surveys of larger buildings can also take more than one visit, and could be spread over numerous days on site.
Age of the building — Age of your building also plays an essential role in the asbestos survey. Older buildings require a more detailed survey as old structures are more prone to wear and tear, and they can pose a higher risk of asbestos exposure as there is a greater chance of asbestos containing materials being present.
Maintenance of the building — Poorly maintained buildings need comprehensive asbestos surveys to identify the potential asbestos exposure. Surveyors have to inspect all the areas with evident and potential damage for asbestos exposure carefully.
What Happens After An Asbestos Survey?
After the asbestos survey, the asbestos duty holder of the surveyed building receives a comprehensive survey report. Asbestos survey report will contain the analysis results certificate of the samples taken, which will identify the ACMs and make recommendations to manage them.
Asbestos surveys are the first step towards the prevention of asbestos exposure. They provide deep insight into the quantity and propagation of ACMs. Depending on the recommendations in the survey report, it is the responsibility of the duty holder to take adequate steps for asbestos management.
Once the survey report has been issued, it is the responsibility of the duty holder to put in place a management plan to record when the positively identified materials have been inspected, and a written record kept within the management plan, to keep them complaint.
Remember that despite the asbestos management plan, different asbestos surveys are required for future repair and renovation of a building containing ACMs.
Caution! In the case of asbestos mishandling, the liable person in the UK could go to prison for up to 12 months with a £20,000 fine.