With the amount of information available from HSE, the harm asbestos can cause is a topic very well understood by most in the construction industry. Thankfully, long gone are the days when asbestos was considered a viable construction material. The detrimental health effects of working with asbestos have been known about within the UK workplace for over 120 years. This is largely due to the fact that asbestos can release microscopic, and therefore respirable, fibres which can enter the respiratory system.
In the present day, many buildings still have asbestos materials present within their construction. These asbestos materials are to be considered a risk as if they are disturbed they can and will release fibres, causing harm to people whom may be exposed. It is for this reason that performing an asbestos survey, and the required management of any positively identified materials, is imperative.
As mentioned, the asbestos survey is a formal inspection of a property for asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) and the assessment of their risk. To remain compliant within the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, companies must ensure that the correct type of asbestos survey is carried out to identify and manage the risk of any ACMs. There are two main types of asbestos survey— the management survey, the refurbishment and demolition survey.
These can be described further…
Asbestos Management Survey
A management survey is the standard survey. Its purpose is to locate, as far as reasonably practicable, the presence and extent of any suspect ACMs in the building which could be damaged or disturbed during normal occupancy, including foreseeable maintenance and installation, and to assess their condition. Management surveys will often involve minor intrusive work and some disturbance. The extent of intrusion will vary between premises and depend on what is reasonably practicable for individual properties, i.e. it will depend on factors such as the type of building, the nature of construction, accessibility etc. A management survey should include an assessment of the condition of the various ACMs and their ability to release fibres into the air if they are disturbed in some way.
The management survey will usually involve sampling and analysis to confirm the presence or absence of ACMs. However, a management survey can also involve presuming the presence or absence of asbestos. A management survey can be completed using a combination of sampling ACMs and presuming ACMs
Refurbishment & Demolition Survey
A refurbishment and demolition survey is needed before any refurbishment or demolition work is carried out. This type of survey is used to locate and describe, as far as reasonably practicable, all ACMs in the area where the refurbishment work will take place or in the whole building if demolition is planned. The survey will be fully intrusive and involve destructive inspection, as necessary, to gain access to all areas, including those that may be difficult to reach. A refurbishment and demolition survey may also be required in other circumstances, e.g. when more intrusive maintenance and repair work will be carried out or for plant removal or dismantling. There is a specific requirement in CAR 2012 (regulation 7) for all ACMs to be removed as far as reasonably practicable before major refurbishment or final demolition. Removing ACMs is also appropriate in other smaller refurbishment situations which involve structural or layout changes to buildings (e.g. removal of partitions, walls, units etc.)
The management of asbestos items
If ACMs are found to be present in the property, then you have a legal duty to manage them. Under the current regulations (CAR 2012), part of the asbestos management plan is to inspect the property regularly and at least annually, to check for any deterioration.
Asbestos surveys serve as a guide and reference in your overall asbestos management plan. If you are the Duty Holder and maintaining a building with ACMs, then it is your responsibility to set a robust asbestos management plan in place to comply with the current regulations.
The asbestos management plan includes drafting schedules for regular re-inspections to ensure that the condition of the asbestos isn’t degrading, and that your premises remain safe for your employees and the public.
Any businesses occupying buildings with ACMs should remain within compliance, and the scope of the regulatory body (HSE).
If you feel you may be falling short of compliance, or need help with the construction of an asbestos management plan within the Cornwall, Devon, Bristol or Southampton areas, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us, to see how we can be of help.