Suppliers of asbestos in the UK

Asbestos Survey

The duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises.

Asbestos, a category 1 human carcinogen, is subject to a specific set of regulations. These regulations cover work with asbestos, including asbestos surveys or asbestos removal, prohibitions on the importation, supply and use of asbestos and licensing of asbestos removal activities. Regulation 4 of “CAR 2006” contains an explicit duty on the owners and occupiers of non-domestic premises, who have maintenance and repair responsibilities, to assess and manage the risks from the presence of asbestos. The risks will vary with circumstances and can arise from normal occupation of a building or from inadvertent disturbance during the repair, refurbishment and demolition of premises. The risk assessment will be used to produce a management plan which details and records what actions to take to manage and reduce the risks from asbestos.

Construction Work.

CDM requires arrangements to be in place to deal with asbestos during construction work, including refurbishments and demolition. Where construction or building work is to be carried out, the CDM client must provide designers and contractors who are bidding for the work (or who they intend to engage) with project-specific information about the presence of asbestos, so that the risks associated with design and construction work, including demolition, can be addressed. It is not acceptable to make general reference to hazards that may exist. Therefore site specific asbestos surveys should be carried out in advance of construction work to make sure that the asbestos survey information is available to those who need it.

The purpose of the asbestos survey is to help manage asbestos in the duty holder’s premises. The asbestos survey has to provide sufficient information for: an asbestos register and plan to be prepared, a suitable risk assessment to be carried out and a written plan to manage the risks to be produced.

In most cases the asbestos survey will have three main aims:
· It must as far as reasonably practicable locate and record the location, extent and product type of any presumed or known ACMs.
· It must inspect and record information on the accessibility, condition and surface treatment of any presumed or known ACMs.
· It should determine and record the asbestos type, either by collecting representative samples of suspect materials for laboratory identification, or by making a presumption based on the product type and its appearance etc.

Types of asbestos survey.

There are a few different types of asbestos surveys: asbestos management surveys and asbestos refurbishment and demolition surveys. The type of asbestos survey will vary during the lifespan of the premises and several may be needed over time. A management asbestos survey will be required during the normal occupation and use of the building to ensure continued management of the ACMs in situ. A refurbishment or demolition asbestos survey will be necessary when the building (or part of it) is to be upgraded, refurbished or demolished. It is probable that at larger premises a mixture of asbestos survey types will be appropriate, e.g. a boiler house due for demolition will require a refurbishment/demolition survey, while offices at the same site would have a management asbestos survey. In later years refurbishment asbestos surveys may be required in rooms or floors which are being upgraded. In sectors where there are large numbers of properties (e.g. domestic houses) or internal units (e.g. hotels), only particular rooms may be specified for upgrading, e.g. kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms. Refurbishment asbestos surveys would only be necessary in the locations.

It is important that the client and the asbestos surveyor know exactly what type of asbestos survey is to be carried out and where, and what the specification will be. So there should be a clear statement and record of the type of asbestos survey that is to be carried out, including the reasons for selecting that type of asbestos survey, and where it is to be carried out.

Refurbishment and demolition asbestos surveys.

A refurbishment and demolition survey is needed before any refurbishment or demolition work is carried out. This type of asbestos 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 asbestos 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 2006 (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). Under CDM, the survey information should be used to help in the tendering process for removal of ACMs from the building before work starts. The asbestos survey report should be supplied by the client to designers and contractors who may be bidding for the work, so that the asbestos ricks can be addressed. In this type of survey, where the asbestos is identified so that it can be removed (rather that to ‘manage’ it), the survey does not normally assess the condition of the asbestos, other than to indicate areas of damage or where additional asbestos debris may be present. However, where the asbestos removal may not take place for some time, the ACMs’ condition will need to be assessed and the materials managed.

Refurbishment and demolition surveys are intended to locate all the asbestos in the building (or the relevant part), as far as reasonably practicable. It is a disruptive and fully intrusive survey which may need to penetrate all parts of the building structure. Aggressive inspection techniques will be needed to lift carpets and tiles, breakthrough walls, ceilings, cladding and partitions, and open up floors. In these situations, controls should be put in place to prevent the spread of debris, which may include asbestos. Refurbishment and demolition surveys should only be conducted in unoccupied areas to minimise risks to the public or employees on the premises. Ideally, the building should not be in service and all furnishings removed. For minor refurbishment, this would only apply to the room involved or even part of the room where the work is small and room is large. In these situations, there should be effective isolation of the survey area (e.g. full floor to ceiling partition), and furnishings should be removed as far as possible or protected using sheeting. The ‘surveyed’ area must be shown to be fit for reoccupation before people move back in. This will require a thorough visual inspection and, if appropriate (e.g. where there has been significant destruction), reassurance air sampling with disturbance. Under no circumstances should staff remain in rooms or areas of buildings when intrusive sampling is performed.

There may be some circumstances where the building is still ‘occupied’ (i.e. in use) at the time a demolition survey is carried out. For example in the educational sector, refurbishment/demolition surveys may be conducted in schools or colleges during one closure period (e.g. holidays) and the work not undertaken until the next holiday period. Also, a demolition survey may be conducted to establish the economic future or viability of a building(s). The survey results would determine the outcome. In such situations, the ‘survey’ will need extremely careful managing personnel and equipment/furnishings being decanted and protected (as necessary), while the survey progresses through the building. Again, there should be effective isolation of the survey areas and the ‘surveyed’ area must be shown to be fit for reoccupation before personnel reoccupy.