Demystifying Asbestos Surveys: What Property Owners Should Know

Asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous material, was once widely used in the construction industry due to its fire-resistant and insulating properties. However, it was discovered that exposure to asbestos fibers can cause serious health problems such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. As a result, regulations were put in place to protect workers and the public from exposure to asbestos. One of these regulations includes conducting asbestos surveys in buildings to determine the presence, type, and condition of asbestos-containing materials. In this guide, we will provide a comprehensive overview of asbestos survey, including what they are, why they are necessary, and how they are conducted.

What is an Asbestos Survey?

An asbestos survey is a visual inspection and assessment of a building or structure intended to identify any asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) that pose a risk of exposure. The purpose of this type of survey is to determine the location, quantity, and condition of ACMs so that proper measures can be taken to ensure the safety of occupants and workers.

Why Are Asbestos Surveys Necessary?

Asbestos surveys are necessary for several reasons. Firstly, it is essential to identify ACMs before carrying out any renovations or demolition work in a building to prevent the release of asbestos fibers into the air. Secondly, it is a legal requirement for those responsible for non-domestic buildings to manage the risks associated with asbestos-containing materials under the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012. Finally, an asbestos survey is essential for protecting people’s health from the dangers of asbestos fibers.

Types of Asbestos Surveys

There are two main types of asbestos surveys – Management surveys and Refurbishment/Demolition surveys. A Management survey is the regular assessment of the condition of known or suspected ACMs and their ability to release fibers over time. This survey is usually carried out in occupied buildings to monitor any changes to the condition of ACMs. Refurbishment/Demolition surveys (R&D surveys) are more intrusive and are conducted when a building is being renovated or demolished. This is to identify any asbestos materials that may need to be removed before carrying out the work.

How are Asbestos Surveys Conducted?

Surveys should only be conducted by trained and experienced personnel who have the right equipment to carry out the survey safely. The surveyors will begin by identifying the area to be surveyed, including the location, size, and layout of the building. The surveyors will then take samples from any suspected ACMs that are not easily identifiable. These samples are then sent to an accredited laboratory for analysis. The survey findings will be summarized in a report, which identifies the material type, location, and condition of the ACMs.

After an Asbestos Survey, What’s Next?

After an asbestos survey has been conducted, the survey report must be used to form an asbestos management plan (AMP). The AMP should document the methods that will be used to control identified asbestos-containing materials and the ACMs that remain in place. The plan should include information on how any future work on ACMs will be controlled, how the risk from asbestos will be managed, and how information on the presence of ACMs will be communicated to anyone working on the building.

Conclusion:

Asbestos surveys are a crucial aspect of managing asbestos in buildings. They help identify known and suspected ACMs and determine their location, quantity, and condition. It is essential to have trained and experienced personnel conduct the survey safely as any exposure to asbestos can cause serious health problems. After an asbestos survey, an asbestos management plan should be developed, clearly outlining how the identified asbestos-containing materials will be safely managed. Asbestos surveys are not only a legal requirement but critical for safeguarding people’s health from the dangers of asbestos fibers.