Will a Survey Find Asbestos?

Will a Survey Find Asbestos?The concept of a survey is of a person inspecting a building and marking items on his checklist. This is accurate, however, an asbestos survey is more than a simple stroll through a building. The purpose of an asbestos survey is to find any asbestos-containing materials that could be in a building, and the condition thereof.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral. It was widely used in construction and other industries as an additive to building materials. Asbestos, when added to other materials, offered a number of attractive properties including strength, fire, water and chemical resistance.

Mined from natural deposits from around the world, it can be processed and made into, or added to, a number of products.

There are six types of asbestos divided into two sub groups; serpentine and amphiboles.  Serpentine Asbestos (white asbestos or chrysotile) and Amphibole Asbestos (blue asbestos – Crocidolite, brown asbestos – Amosite, Tremolite, Actinolite and Anthophyllite).   The most common types of asbestos used in the UK were.

  • blue (crocidolite) – this was often used in spayed insulation, thermal insulation, loose fill insulation, woven products and cement
  • brown (amosite) – generally used as an additive to cement sheets and pipe insulation, along with insulation board and thermal insulation products
  • white (chrysotile) – the most commonly used form of asbestos, it was added to sprayed coatings, thermal insulation, bitumen and felts, paper, cement, textured coatings (artex) and flooring materials and many more

Why is it dangerous?

While the use of all asbestos was banned in 1999, it is still found in most, if not all old buildings constructed prior to 2000. Some types of asbestos become friable when they age. Then, if they are disturbed or damaged, they can release their microscopic fibres into the air. Some Asbestos fibres are needle-like in structure, and are very sharp.

The danger lies in inhaling or ingesting these microscopic fibres. Breathing in the tiny asbestos fibres can damage a person’s lungs as well as the lining of the lungs. This can lead to incurable disease and cancer later in life.

Exposure to asbestos can cause Asbestosis and Mesothelioma. The symptoms of these asbestos-related conditions take many years to appear after the original exposure. Asbestosis is the scarring of the lungs and Mesothelioma is a disease which is usually fatal.

An asbestos survey is essential

The first step in protecting yourself, your employees and those who use your building is by being aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure. It is also important to be aware of where any asbestos-containing materials are located.

The duty holder, or the owner or manager of a building needs an asbestos management plan in place along with details on how any asbestos-containing materials within the building are managed, and the steps taken to do so.

This is where an asbestos survey is invaluable. An asbestos survey not only provides the necessary information regarding any asbestos-containing materials in a building, it is also a legal requirement.

Types of asbestos surveys

There are 2 types of asbestos surveys available to property owners.

  • The Management Survey is the first type of survey. This survey is the most popular survey.  It serves to locate the presence and extent of any asbestos-containing material in  that is likely to be disturbed during normal occupancy of the building.  Normal occupancy means regular maintenance of the building as well.
  • The second asbestos survey is the Refurbishment/Demolition survey. This survey is more intrusive than the management survey. It is required if any refurbishment or alterations are planned or if the building is scheduled for demolition.

Which asbestos survey is the right survey for your building?

Every building built pre 2000 must have an asbestos survey.  In addition, the asbestos survey assists with preparing a management plan. The management plan is also required by law.

It provides the information on how the building owner or the person or organisation responsible for the maintenance or repairs – also called the duty holder – will manage any asbestos-containing materials in his building so that the occupants are not at risk.

If your building is used for daily commercial purposes, you’ll need a Management Survey.

However, if you are planning on alterations or refurbishment work or demolition of your building, a Refurb/Demo Survey is essential. This type of asbestos survey is necessary because any work done on the building is likely to disturb the asbestos within it. The work could cause the release of the asbestos fibres, and this can increase the risk of exposure to anyone working in the building.

Domestic buildings do not need an asbestos survey except in certain instances. These include the common areas in a block of flats such as the foyer, stairwell and laundry rooms.

So, does an asbestos survey find asbestos?

The short answer to this is Yes. The asbestos survey will locate the presence of any asbestos-containing materials. It will also determine if these are likely to pose a threat. The survey will also determine whether the asbestos-containing materials are safe to leave where they are, provided they are not likely to be disturbed or damaged during normal occupancy of the building.

As asbestos-containing materials are often hidden from view, if the surveyor suspects that it is present, he is likely to take a sample and have it tested at an accredited laboratory.

This is the reason why an asbestos survey requires a surveyor that has the right accreditations, experience and knowledge to perform the survey.

Rely on a professional team for your building’s asbestos survey

A surveyor is a qualified and experienced professional with years of experience and knowledge regarding asbestos. In order to ensure that the asbestos survey for your building is correct, thorough and authorised, it is best to enlist the services of a professional company.

We are available to assist you with a professional asbestos survey for your building. All our surveys conform to the guidelines as set out by the HSE in accordance with HSG264.

At ACS, we take pride in our professionalism and excellent level of workmanship regarding our asbestos surveys.

If you need assistance regarding an asbestos survey for your building, you are welcome to contact us today.