Asbestos was a commonly used building material in the UK up until the late 1990s when the harmful effects on health from asbestos were widely recognised. It is now known that asbestos fibres, when inhaled, can cause a number of serious respiratory illnesses, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. As a result, regulations were introduced in the UK, such as an asbestos survey London and removal services, to ensure that asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are identified and managed safely.
How can I learn if my building contains asbestos?
If you own or are responsible for a building built before the year 2000, then there is a chance it may contain asbestos. The only way to be sure is to conduct an asbestos survey by a competent and accredited surveyor. But when exactly do you need to use an asbestos survey company?
The short answer is: whenever you are planning to carry out any work that could disturb asbestos-containing materials. This includes any renovation or demolition work, as well as routine maintenance tasks that might disrupt the fabric of the building. It is important to note that asbestos is only dangerous when it is disturbed, and the fibres are released into the air. Therefore, if you are planning any work that could cause a disturbance, it is essential that you have an asbestos survey carried out beforehand.
The two types of asbestos surveys
Two types of asbestos surveys can be carried out: a management survey and a refurbishment/demolition survey. The type of survey you need will depend on the nature of the work you plan to carry out.
1. A management survey
A management survey is the most basic type of survey. It is used to identify the presence of asbestos-containing materials that are likely to be disturbed during normal occupancy of the building. This type of survey is designed to be non-intrusive and is carried out while the building is in use. A management survey will usually involve a visual inspection of the building and the collection of small samples of suspect materials for analysis in a laboratory. The survey results will be used to compile an asbestos register and management plan for the building.
2. A refurbishment/demolition survey
A refurbishment/demolition survey is a more invasive type of survey that is carried out prior to any significant renovation or demolition work. This type of survey is designed to identify all ACMs in the building and will involve a more detailed inspection of the building fabric. The surveyor will need to gain access to all areas of the building, including those that are difficult to reach, such as ceiling voids and service ducts. Samples of suspect materials will be collected and analysed in a laboratory, and the results of the survey will be used to compile a comprehensive asbestos report. This report will provide detailed information on the location and condition of all ACMs in the building, as well as recommendations for their safe removal and disposal.
It is important to note that competent and accredited surveyors should only carry out asbestos surveys. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides a list of certified surveying firms on their website, and it is recommended that you choose a surveyor from this list.
If an asbestos survey reveals the presence of ACMs in your building, you will need to manage or remove them safely. This may involve sealing or encapsulating the asbestos-containing material to prevent the release of fibres or removing it entirely. The method chosen will depend on the location and condition of the material, as well as the nature of the work that is planned.
If you are planning any work that could disturb asbestos-containing materials, you will need to conduct an asbestos survey. The type of survey that you need will depend on the nature of the work that you are planning, and a competent and accredited surveyor should only carry out the survey. If the survey reveals the presence of ACMs in your building, you will need to take steps to manage or remove them safely per the recommendations provided in the asbestos report.