Asbestos surveying is an important roles for assessing the risks posed by asbestos in commercial and residential properties. As asbestos is a known human carcinogen, exposure to fibres can lead to the development of mesothelioma, lung cancer or other related asbestos diseases. Asbestos surveys are a requirement of UK law if the premises are classed as non-domestic or if it is a housing association domestic property where there is a duty of care to obtain asbestos information for archetype of property. The surveys fall into two different asbestos survey types – and a building may require either one or both – it depends on the building and the planned work.
Asbestos management survey
Asbestos management surveys are conducted to assess the risk asbestos poses in any non-domestic property built pre-1999, and they allow for plans to be drawn up to correctly manage the posed risks. This is typically conducted upon the purchase or lease of a property, and every three to five years following as a rough guideline. This specific survey identifies the location, type, and condition of any asbestos-containing materials within the building.
A management survey assesses the risks of potential exposure and makes recommendations for managing them. The survey needs to be conducted by an asbestos removal company suitably qualified, trained and competent person / business.
Asbestos refurbishment and demolition survey
This specific type of survey is to be conducted when work on any property is planned that will disturb the fabric of the building. This can be from a minor refurbishment of a couple of rooms, to a full scale strip-out and re-fit project, or when a building is to be demolished.
It is required by UK law to be done before any work begins on site to prevent or minimise asbestos fibre release into the air. Similar to management surveys, this identifies the location, type, and condition of ACMs within the property, as well as assesses the exposure risks and brings recommendations for the management of the risk. The differences are that this type of survey accesses void spaces to try to identify ‘hidden’ asbestos products that were installed during construction. As such, access and investigations can be aggressive and can cause damage to a structure. With this in mind the surveys should only be conducted when the property is vacant. This work also needs to be conducted by a qualified asbestos surveyor in asbestos removal.
These asbestos survey types are a requirement before carrying out any form of work that damages or disturbs a building, such as major renovations, demolition or making holes or the stripping of areas such as walls, floors and ceilings. If you are unsure of whether the level of work you are doing will damage or disturb asbestos, you should assume that it will and get a survey done before anything else.
Asbestos surveys are not an option, they are important in identifying asbestos presence so that the work can be done and protect the health & safety of trades, the public and building users. Remember, it is only when asbestos is damaged or disturbed that it becomes hazardous to health.