An asbestos survey is necessary if you have an older building constructed before the year 2000. The reason for this is because asbestos was used in construction as an additive. Adding asbestos to the building materials made them strong, resistant to chemicals, heat and electricity. It is understandable why this was hailed as a ‘wonder’ material for the construction industry.
Unfortunately, the effects of working with asbestos and any materials containing asbestos led to severe health problems. Workmen who had been exposed to asbestos developed diseases and cancers. It was found that the microscopic needle-like asbestos fibres were released into the air when certain types of asbestos aged or became friable. These fibres are the culprits causing incurable disease and cancer.
Unfortunately, the effects of these illnesses only become apparent later in life. There is no cure. It remains imperative that steps are taken and put in place to ensure people working in older buildings are kept safe.
Why have an asbestos survey?
An asbestos survey is the very first step. Managing asbestos and asbestos-containing materials within a property falls under the manager or owner’s responsibility. He needs to locate any and all asbestos-containing materials, have them tested to see if they are harmful and put a plan in place to ensure the management of any asbestos in the building. This is a legal requirement.
Knowing where the asbestos-containing materials are ensures that the workers within the building and those who work there part time, such as maintenance and repair workers are aware of the dangers and how to safely proceed with their work.
There are a number of legal documents that are needed to ensure your building is legally compliant. One of these is an asbestos register. This informs where and how much the asbestos-containing materials can be located in your building.
However, in order to record this information, an asbestos survey must be done. An asbestos survey locates the presence and extent of the asbestos-containing materials in your building. It also suggests that certain samples of suspected asbestos- containing materials are tested at an accredited laboratory.
When you, as the duty holder, are aware of all the asbestos-containing materials in your building, you have the knowledge to ensure the right steps are put in place. Asbestos was so widely used in the past that is can be found in all manner of places in your building. It was used in cement, ceiling boards, fascias and guttering, flooring tiles, cisterns, and more. It is essential that an asbestos survey is conducted to locate where the asbestos-containing materials are.
Types of asbestos
There are three main types of asbestos that can still be found in buildings. These include the commonly called ‘blue asbestos’ (crocidolite), ‘brown asbestos’ (amosite) and ‘white asbestos’ (chrysotile). Each type of asbestos is a dangerous carcinogen, but blue and brown asbestos are more hazardous than white.
Types of asbestos surveys
There are 2 types of asbestos surveys available. The more common asbestos survey, and the one typically used if your building is a commercial space, is the management survey. This survey is concerned with locating the presence of any asbestos-containing material. It also indicates the extent of these ACMs. Furthermore, it provides the opportunity to remove a sample for testing at an accredited UKAS laboratory.
When all the information has been gathered and recorded on the asbestos register of your building, a thorough asbestos management plan can be compiled. This provides the steps to take regarding the asbestos in the building. It is relevant for anyone who uses the building, whether they are full time employees or not. It should also include tradesmen or maintenance repair workers.
The 2nd asbestos survey is called the refurb/demo survey. This survey is a must if you are planning on any renovation work on your building, or if you are planning on demolishing it. It is an intrusive survey and will need the building to be completely empty with no staff present in the building.
However, for your building where your work place is situated, the management survey is sufficient.
This begs the question of how often an asbestos survey is needed. As with anything, things change with time. In the case of a building, internal furnishings could degrade or get damaged. An asbestos survey ensures that the information you do have about the asbestos-containing materials in your building is current.
Regular inspections of your building can provide a visual of the state of the asbestos-containing materials. The time between inspections will depend on the type of material, where it is and its condition, but it should be at least every six to 12 months.
Furthermore, the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 state that asbestos re-inspections should be conducted every 6-12 months depending on the asbestos survey report. If your building has asbestos-containing materials that are considered as a high risk, a re-inspection of your building must take place to ensure that the risk management assessment and control measures are still valid.
How often is an asbestos survey required?
The first management survey is generally sufficient and the only time you’ll need another asbestos survey is when you are planning on renovations or demolition of your building. Then a refurb/demo survey is required.
However, a re-inspection, which is not necessarily another asbestos survey, is necessary to ensure the identified asbestos-containing materials have not degraded or become damaged. A re-inspection should be completed every 6 to 12 months. Yet, this does depend on the age of your building, whether the asbestos-containing materials are considered a high risk and to ensure the management plan in place is still valid.
Knowing the extent and location of any asbestos-containing material is essential. For assistance with asbestos surveys and re-inspections, it is best to rely on a professional company with experienced and skilled surveyors. As such, we’re available to assist you with both types of asbestos surveys and re-inspections. Contact ACS today and find out more about how our expert team can assist you manage the asbestos in your building.