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Asbestos Surveys | Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Apr 28

asbestos ppe including goggles, a face mask and warning tape

An asbestos survey is a detailed assessment of a premises carried out in order to identify any asbestos constraining materials. The quantity, location and condition of the materials is documented so that as asbestos management plan can be made.


 

In this Article:



 

What is Asbestos?


Asbestos is a mineral that was used in many different building materials due to its heat resistant properties, it was used widely across the UK before its eventual ban in 1999 when it was discovered to cause diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma.


 

Why are Asbestos Surveys Carried out?


Asbestos surveys are carried out as part of an asbestos management plan that is created to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure in buildings constructed using asbestos containing materials (ACM).


Asbestos surveys are a legal requirement in the UK. This law is outlined under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 which states that duty holders have a legal responsibility to identify and manage the risks from asbestos.


Details of the Assessment

Asbestos surveys take note of multiple details regarding buildings containing asbestos and some of the aspects of an asbestos survey might include:


  • Location of the asbestos

  • Quantity of asbestos

  • How deteriorated are the asbestos containing materials

  • Type of asbestos (actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, tremolite or chrysotile)

  • Quantity of airborne asbestos fibres.


Asbestos Survey Report

From here a comprehensive survey report is put together which will contain photos of the asbestos and a risk assessment put together detailing the level of risk posed by each asbestos containing material. The report should contain a priority list of which asbestos containing materials pose the greatest risk.


Asbestos Management Plan

The details acquired from the survey report is then used to then create a management plan detailing what actions are going to be taken to manage the ACM. This management plan should also include specifics of the most feasible option for monitoring, removal or encapsulation.


 

man and woman conducting a building inspection

Is an Asbestos Survey a Legal Requirement?


Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 landlords, duty holders and property managers are required to identify and manage the risks caused by asbestos in any given building or premises.


Some buildings do not require asbestos surveys, some of these buildings include private residences, buildings constructed after 1999 and temporary structures. Although this is true the safety of people is priority, so in cases where asbestos may be suspected an asbestos survey would still be required.


 

Types of Asbestos Survey


Asbestos surveys usually fall into 3 catagories depending on weather the asbestos needs to be removed or is able to be managed in its existing state. If the case that demolition or refurbishment is required, a more detailed survey is needed to outline how the works will be carried out in order to not disturb the asbestos containing materials (ACM)s.


Here are the 3 types of asbestos survey:


Management Asbestos Survey

Management surveys are conducted to primarily assess the presence of asbestos, record the quantity and condition of the asbestos. This is to conclude the level of risk posed by the asbestos in its current state. Mineral sampling is used to confirm the presence of asbestos although sometimes asbestos can be identified from a sole visual inspection


Asbestos Refurbishment / Demolition Survey

These types of surveys are much more in depth and required before any refurbishing or demolition work can be carried out. Inspections are carried out to determine the location of all ACMs before a plan is created to outline how the works will be completed without causing harm to anyone else on site. The plan will also state the methods used to remove or encapsulate the asbestos in a way that ensures the asbestos does not spread or cause harm to others.


Reinspections

Reinspections should be conducted once per year or when any significant change is made in the premises. These reinspections aim to monitor the condition and locations of asbestos containing materials to reduce the risk of exposure.

 

When are Asbestos Survey Reinspection's Required?


The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 states when asbestos reinspection's are necessary in order to properly manage risk. Reinspection's are required in locations that have asbestos bound materials, to ensure the compounds are not degrading and releasing asbestos fibres into the air.


Below is a list of instances when asbestos survey reinspections are required:


Minimum Reinspection

Asbestos containing materials must be regularly assessed through reinspection if demolition or encapsulation is not carried out. It is recommended a reinspection is carried out every 12 months at minimum.


Changes to the Premises

Any time there is a change to the premises, weather it be work carried out or a change in occupier, there is a requirement for the location to be reinspected. This is due to a possible disturbance of ACMs whilst work is being done or when relocating people.


After a Possible Disturbance

If asbestos is suspected to have been disturbed it is vital that a reinspection is conducted to ensure the asbestos fibres are not being released into the air. Any changes in the condition of ACMs should be recorded and a proper reinspection carried out before additional safety measures are put in place


After Implementing Safety Measures

Once an an initial management plan has been put into place and safety measures have been implemented, a reinspection should be carried out to ensure the effectiveness of the safety measures and confirm they have been implemented correctly.


Changes in Occupancy

If a new owner occupies a building they should have an asbestos reinspection done to ensure they are aware of the risks posed from ACMs. This provides the new owner clarity on what management plan should be put into place and ensures everyone is aware of the current condition of the ACMs on site.


 

document outline an asbestos related penalty

Asbestos Related Penalties in the UK


Not complying with the Control of Asbestos 2012 Regulations in the UK can result in fines and imprisonment. This regulation is enforced by both the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities who seek to manage the risks of asbestos.


There are 4 penalties that can be issued if someone is found not complying with UK asbestos regulations:


  1. Fines Fines can be up to £20,000 in cases where the regulations have been breached. In instances where there have been multiple offenses these fines can stack up, potentially costing well over £100,000 depending on the severity of the breach

  2. Imprisonment In cases where there have been a serious offence committed, people can face imprisonment for up to 2 years. Business owners, directors and managers can be held liable if it is found that they are deemed as a responsible person and have not acted responsibly and adhered to the regulations.

  3. Prohibition Notices If proper action is not taken to protect individuals from exposure to asbestos, local authorities can issues notices that restrict what activities are allowed to be carried out on the premises. This can result in financial loss which is meant to encourage correct action to be taken to reduce risks.

  4. Improvement Notices These notices are issued in cases where a responsible person such as a manager or premises owner has not adhered to regulations. They are asked to implement specific changes and improvements within a given timeframe in order to keep people safe. If they do not make the improvements outline in the notice they will face more sever fines and legal repercussions.

 

What Buildings Require Asbestos Surveys?


Any building constructed or refurbished before 1999 requires an asbestos survey to ensure compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. This is because asbestos was still used in some construction materials before this year.


Here is a list of the types of buildings and locations that currently require asbestos surveys:


  • Commercial Buildings

  • Public Buildings

  • Educational Facilities

  • Healthcare Facilities

  • Residential Buildings with Communal Areas

  • Industrial Sites


 

Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012


These regulations state what is legally required of duty holders regarding the management of asbestos. The regulations provides detail on how duty holders are responsible for the identification and current condition of asbestos in a premises.


The key points to take from this regulation is that the responsible person in any given building is required to Identify, Assess and Manage asbestos in order to prevent exposure.


Asbestos Register

The results of the survey should be recorded in an asbestos register and kept up to date so that it can be provided to anyone conducting work or maintenance in the premises. This is to stop people coming into contact with asbestos and disturbing it unknowingly.


 

Asbestos Awareness Training


Training is a key component of any asbestos management plan. Although asbestos may have been identified and managed in a building, employees may not be aware of the danger associated with disturbing asbestos containing materials.


Training ensures staff are aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure and helps them identify asbestos. This ensures employers remain compliant with the Health and Safety at Work Act by educating employees of the hazards they may face at work.


 

Sources


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