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Why get an asbestos survey?

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

Why get an Asbestos Survey?

An effective way to help you manage asbestos in premises that were constructed before the year 2000 in the UK, an asbestos survey provides accurate information on the location, amount and type of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in your property. Either known to contain asbestos or presumed to contain asbestos, ACMs could be damaged or disturbed during every day activities, maintenance or the installation of new equipment within the building. This disturbance could result in asbestos fibres being released into the air and breathed in by those in the property; once inhaled, asbestos can cause debilitating illnesses or fatal diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.

The purpose of surveying is to make a materials assessment to find ACMs and record where it is, what it is how much of it there is; to record how accessible it is, its condition and any surface treatment, and to record the asbestos type through sampling. For those wishing to undertake a survey on their premises, there are two types of survey for ACM: the management survey and refurbishment/demolition survey.

The management survey is required for the management of ACMs during the normal occupation and use of premises and aims to ensure no one is harmed by the continuing presence of ACM in the premises, that the ACM is in good condition and that nobody is able to disturb it accidentally. The survey must also locate ACMs that may be disturbed or damaged by normal activities by foreseeable maintenance or the installation of new equipment. Minor intrusion and minor asbestos disturbance is involved in the materials assessment, which shows the ability of ACMs when disturbed and guides the client in prioritising any remedial work.

A refurbishment/demolition survey, meanwhile, is required when premises, or part of them, require upgrades, refurbishment or demolition. This type of survey aims to ensure that no one, from tradesmen, workers, the duty-holder/owner or even the general public, will be harmed during work on ACMs in the premises or equipment and also that work will be done by a competent and experienced contractor to make sure work is completed in the right way. The surveyed area must also be vacated and certified fit for reoccupation after the survey.

While it may be tempting to undertake work on a property without an asbestos survey or the utilisation of a licensed contractor, the fact that asbestos can be found in many parts of the home, from pipes to toilet cisterns and even floor tiles, means the risk of asbestos exposure is high. By not carrying out suitable assessment of asbestos removal work, not adequately checking management and particularly predemolitionor refurbishment surveys and not using a licensed asbestos removal contractor , many duty-holders are putting themselves and those around them at risk of exposure.

In an attempt to reduce the number of people choosing to undertake dangerous and unsuitable work on buildings that may have ACMs, the HSE is cracking down on asbestos negligence, with those failing to properly plan, manage and resource projects being handed huge fines and even prison sentences. With stories of asbestos and mesothelioma related deaths rising in recent years and the dangers of asbestos widely known, there is no excuse when it comes to the poor handling of projects where asbestos is a risk.

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