The use of asbestos as a building material is banned. The ban came into full effect in 1999. However, as it was widely used in many products, especially in the building industry, asbestos-containing materials are still present in buildings today.
It can be found in insulation material for buildings, pipes, boilers, roofing, flooring, tiles and more. As many, if not all buildings erected before the year 2000 contain asbestos in some form, it is essential that a proper plan is in place to manage the asbestos-containing materials.
Asbestos is not considered harmful when it is in large pieces and undamaged. The problem lies in when some types of asbestos is damaged. It can, when disturbed, release microscopic fibres into the air. These microscopic fibres can be swallowed or inhaled by those in the vicinity. This can lead to asbestosis that leads to an increased susceptibility to cancer later in life.
The first step
It is required by law that an asbestos survey takes place in a building to ensure that a management plan can be put in place. An asbestos survey can determine the location, extent and the condition of any asbestos-containing materials.
Once the asbestos survey is complete, the information gleaned can assist in the preparation of a management plan. A management plan is also a legal requirement.
Who is responsible for an asbestos survey?
If you own a commercial building, you have the responsibility of ensuring that the building is safe for the occupants of the building. This includes arranging for an asbestos survey as well as a management plan.
Additionally, a person managing a commercial building is also responsible for an asbestos survey.
The person responsible for the management of asbestos in a building is called the duty holder.
According to the HSE, under regulation 4, in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, asbestos management for a non-domestic property is the responsibility of the owner, person or organisation that has clear accountability for the repair or maintenance of the premises, through explicit agreement such as a contract.
- In other words, if the owner of the commercial building has sole responsibility for his building, he is the duty holder and is responsible for the asbestos management thereof.
- Further, if the tenants of the commercial building are listed as responsible for repairs, maintenance and alterations, they are then the duty holders.
- This information should be clearly stated in the lease agreement between the owner and the tenant.
What does duty to manage mean?
The duty to manage means that the person responsible for the commercial building must ensure that it is safe for the occupants of the building. The occupants of the building may also include periodic maintenance personnel. It includes ensuring that the correct asbestos management procedures are in place in a written document.
The best way to obtain the information needed for a management plan is by having an asbestos survey conducted.
Types of asbestos surveys
There are two types of asbestos surveys: the management survey and the refurb/demo survey.
The management survey: this survey ensures that the occupants of the building are not harmed by any asbestos-containing materials in the building. It checks the condition and the extent of any asbestos-containing materials. In addition, it can identify any asbestos-containing material that is likely to be disturbed by any normal day-to-day activity, standard building maintenance or the installation of any new equipment in the building.
The results of this survey provide the duty holder with the necessary information to prepare a management plan.
The refurb/demo survey: this survey is required is any renovation or demolition work is planned for the building. It is an intrusive survey and the building needs to be vacated prior to the start of the survey.
What is the duty of responsibility?
The duty holder is required to do the following:
- Determine whether there are asbestos-containing materials are present in the building. This includes the amount, the extent and the condition.
- The preparation of a detailed plan that explains how the risks from the asbestos-containing materials will be managed and to ensure the plan is put into action.
- Ensure the information on the condition and location of the asbestos-containing materials is made available to anyone who is liable to work on them, or potentially disturb them.
- Periodically monitor and review the plan to ensure it is up to date and relevant.
The right asbestos surveyors are a must
As the duty-holder, it is essential to have an asbestos survey completed for the building. It is also essential to choose an asbestos surveyor that has the experience, credentials and the knowledge to conduct the correct survey.
If you need to have an asbestos survey completed, we are available to assist. Our team of surveyors have a wealth of experience, are fully qualified and can provide a comprehensive and cost-effective asbestos survey for your commercial building. In addition, our surveyors can provide additional recommendations on the best course of action.
We can assist you with both the management survey and the refurb/demo survey. Safety is one of our top priorities, and all surveys that we conduct conform to the HSG 264 industry standard as set out by the HSE. In addition, we can assist you with the preparation of a management plan for your particular building.
Should any asbestos-containing materials found in your building need to be removed, we can assist. We only work with asbestos removal companies that are fully qualified and meet with our approval. This ensures that the removal of the asbestos is completed by competent and qualified professionals, ensuring safety and peace of mind.
Asbestos survey – who is responsible?
The responsibility of having an asbestos survey lies with the duty holder of the building. The duty holder can engage the services of a professional asbestos surveyor.