A commonly asked question is whether asbestos surveys are a mandatory requirement, either for homeowners or owners of commercial properties. The truth is that it depends on the circumstances of the property. It’s also true that while sometimes it’s not necessarily mandatory to have a survey, it can be hugely important to ensure the safety of people visiting the properly knowing they are not put at risk of being exposed to asbestos.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that has been a popular building material since the 1950s. It is used as an insulator (to keep in heat and keep out cold), has good fire protection properties and protects against corrosion.
Asbestos is often mixed with another material so it is hard to know if you are working with it or not. If you are in a building built before the year 2000, it’s likely that some parts of the building may contain asbestos. It can be found in many products used in buildings such as ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, boilers and sprayed coatings.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos has been proven to cause a number of very serious, and often life threatening, diseases. When asbestos is disturbed or damaged, the fibres are released into the air and can be inhaled. Unfortunately, when they are inhaled, they can cause extremely severe diseases because of the permanent damage they cause to the body. The diseases won’t be apparent immediately; it is usually years later that symptoms will first appear; but, when most people are diagnosed, it is often too late.
Asbestos exposure kills somebody on average every five hours and exposure is the No. 1 cause of work-related deaths in the world.However, asbestos is not a thing of the past as it still exists in numerous buildings which were constructed or refurbished pre-2000.
Is an asbestos survey required?
If you own or maintain non-domestic premises that were built pre 2000, then it is a legal requirement for you to have had this property surveyed by a qualified asbestos specialist.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 state that you owe a duty of care to anyone who visits your property. If someone is harmed by asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) on your premises and you do not have a survey in place, you are then at risk of facing serious legal sanctions.
How do you determine what type of survey is need?
A management survey is a non-destructive survey which does not disturb the fabric of the building. This type of survey is usually sufficient for the purposes of normal occupation and prior to most maintenance tasks. All accessible surface materials will be assessed but it should also assess areas such as ceiling risers, which could be subject to maintenance activity.
An asbestos refurbishment survey or an asbestos demolition survey will be required if intrusive works are planned on your building, such as refurbishment, new services installation (fire alarms, CCTV etc) or demolition. Both surveys involve intrusive inspection of normally inaccessible areas with the aim of locating ‘hidden’ asbestos containing materials, which could be disturbed by the planned project.
The HSE recommends engaging UKAS accredited surveying organisations such as UK Asbestos based in Northampton as they have been independently audited to confirm compliance with the HSG 264 guidance. This guarantees that all asbestos removal is carried out should only be carried out by a fully competent and qualified contractor who has appropriately trained staff to carry out the removal.
They also suggest before choosing a contractor firstly check the correct insurances to work with asbestos in addition to having provision for disposal of the asbestos waste. The removal contractor needs to hold a HSE (Health and Safety Executive) licence for work with asbestos if the works fall within the licensed category
Arrange for an asbestos survey today!
The expert team at UK Asbestos have years of experience in completing asbestos surveys for a variety of different properties. For free, expert advice from one of our knowledgeable and helpful advisors based in Northampton, call UK Asbestos today on 01604 240507 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.