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Asbestos remains a potential risk to employees and customers in modern buildings. The substance is still often discovered and has to be managed on commercial premises. As a result, conducting regular asbestos inspections is essential.
Are you in search of a reliable provider for asbestos surveys for commercial buildings?
At Robinsons Facilities Services, we offer bespoke asbestos surveys that align with your unique requirements. If you’d like to request a quote or discuss your requirements further, please call us at 01423226578 or visit our Contact Us page.
Alternatively, if you’re interested in understanding more about asbestos surveys and our approach, continue reading below.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral that was once widely used in construction and manufacturing due to its fire-resistant and insulating properties. However, prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres can pose severe health risks. These include serious lung diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma—a rare and aggressive cancer.
Asbestos has been banned for over 20 years in the UK. But before that, it was used extensively in construction and insulation. It can be found in boiler rooms, ceiling tiles, asbestos lagging and many other places.
When asbestos is disturbed, it can release harmful fibres into the air. And these fibres can cause serious health problems, including lung cancer and asbestosis if people inhale them.
What Is An Asbestos Survey?
An asbestos survey is a thorough inspection of a commercial building to assess if there are asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). The survey will identify where asbestos is located, what condition it is in and how much of a risk it poses. The ACM survey will also assess the level of asbestos awareness among staff and provide recommendations on how to manage the substance safely.
Asbestos surveys are a legal requirement for many commercial properties in the UK. The type of survey you need will depend on the age and condition of the property, as well as the type of business you conduct there.
As such, the HSE recommends having an asbestos management survey carried out by “competent” professional surveyors, such as Robinsons Facilities Services.
Get in touch today to learn more about our services and accredited team.
What Are The Goals Of An Asbestos Assessment?
The main goals of an asbestos survey report are as follows:
- Identify any ACMs in a building or property. This includes locating asbestos in the insulation, roofing, flooring, or pipe insulation.
- Assess the condition of ACMs in a building to determine the immediate risk of exposure. This includes evaluating how likely they are to release asbestos fibres into the atmosphere (known as friability).
- Offer risk management recommendations based on the findings of the ACM assessment report. This could mean removing the ACMs, monitoring them, or encapsulating them to mitigate risk.
Why An Asbestos Survey Is Critical
Conducting a thorough asbestos investigation is essential for a number of reasons. These include:
- Protecting public health. Exposure to ACMs causes severe health risks, including mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Property owners have a duty to protect the health of both occupants and workers.
- Complying with UK laws. Like many other countries, the UK has strict regulations around asbestos control measures and asbestos management. That includes conducting proper ACM surveys. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to legal penalties.
- Locating ACMs in a building. When disturbed, ACMs can omit dangerous chemicals and cause asbestos exposure. That’s why asbestos surveys are essential to identify hazardous materials and prevent future issues.
Potential Risks of Asbestos Exposure
As we previously mentioned, asbestos exposure can create a number of health problems. These include respiratory conditions, including lung cancer, asbestosis (a chronic lung disease), and mesothelioma.
In addition, there are other risk factors associated with ACMs, such as:
- Asbestos-related conditions tend to have a long latency period. This means that individuals may not exhibit symptoms for years, making early detection impossible.
- There is a high risk of secondary exposure, as the person exposed to asbestos can carry it into the family home on their clothing fibres.
- Asbestos can contaminate the environment, causing a public health concern.
- There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, meaning that even a low level can cause health issues in the long term.
Types of Asbestos Survey
When it comes to asbestos hazard assessment, there are several different types of asbestos surveys. These include:
The main objective of a management survey is to identify and manage asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in a building’s routine occupancy. This survey is intended to locate and assess the condition of ACMs that could be disturbed during normal activities or maintenance.
Refurbishment or Demolition Asbestos Survey
Asbestos survey companies usually conduct this type of survey before major refurbishments or demolitions. That’s because it aims to locate any ACMs that could be disturbed during the planned work, and safely removes them before work begins.
After identifying ACMs through previous surveys, re-inspection surveys are conducted at regular intervals to monitor and assess the condition of these materials. This helps ensure that management plans are effective and that ACMs remain undisturbed and safe.
Furthermore, any building built before 2000 must have an asbestos survey carried out. Asbestos screening is also essential for:
- Non-Domestic Buildings
- Public Parts of Domestic Buildings Such as Shared Facilities
- Construction Sites
Legal guidelines are outlined in The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
What Happens If Asbestos Is Found?
If asbestos is found in your commercial property, you must:
- Stop work immediately if asbestos is disturbed or damaged
- Do not try to remove asbestos yourself – this should only be done by a licensed asbestos removal contractor
- Make sure the area around the asbestos is well ventilated
- Contact an asbestos removal contractor to remove the asbestos safely
You should also:
- Inform your employees about the asbestos and where it is located
- Restrict access to the area where asbestos is located
- Make sure that only trained staff are allowed to work in the area
- Monitor the condition of asbestos regularly
Asbestos removal is a complex and dangerous process. It should only be carried out by a licensed asbestos removal contractor.
HSE recommends that companies use surveyors accredited to standard BS EN ISO/IEC 17020 and that “competent” individuals carry out the asbestos survey, proof that you have abided by this guideline can help you stick to your legal responsibilities. Our team of experts can help with all aspects of asbestos management and carry numerous credentials that are relevant to this type of work.
How to Manage Asbestos
Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 outlines how you might manage the asbestos if you find it on your premises. In doing so, you can ensure that it isn’t a risk to anyone on site.
If left undisturbed, asbestos may still be safe to be around. HSE outlines the “control limit” for asbestos, a level that should not be exceeded.
“At the moment, the control limit is 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre of air (0.1 f/cm3). The control limit is not a ‘safe’ level and work activities involving asbestos should be designed to be as far below the control limit as possible. HSE has progressively tightened the control limit since 1987.”
For peace of mind, a full asbestos survey is essential. Robinsons Facilities Services can offer risk assessments and asbestos surveys to help you establish the risk and keep people safe.
Whose Responsibility is Asbestos in the UK?
In the UK, the responsibility for managing asbestos falls under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The duty to manage asbestos is primarily the responsibility of the person who owns, occupies, manages, or control non-domestic premises.
Employers also have a duty to protect their employees from exposure to asbestos in the workplace under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
In summary, the responsibility for managing asbestos in the UK falls primarily on those who own, occupy, manage or have control over non-domestic premises or common areas of domestic premises that may contain asbestos. Furthermore, it’s the responsibility of employers who have a duty to protect their employees from exposure to asbestos in the workplace.
The Importance of Hiring a Professional Asbestos Surveyor
An asbestos risk assessment must be carried out by a competent person if there are any changes to the premises that could disturb asbestos. There are several reasons why contracting a professional asbestos removal specialist is critical, here are some of the most notable.
Professional asbestos surveyors have the training and expertise to accurately conduct surveys, and understand the different types of ACMs. What’s more, they can use their know-how to recommend the best course of action, based on the latest regulations and laws. All of this means they are able to provide a more accurate and reliable building asbestos evaluation and maintain consistent quality control.
This expertise serves to ensure that all asbestos surveys are carried out with the utmost safety, using the right PPE and minimising the risk of exposure or spread.
Since asbestos regulations tend to be complex, working with a professional surveyor ensures that you comply with legal regulations and building compliance. In addition, they can supply the necessary documentation, such as detailed reports, risk assessments, and recommendations. This documentation is vital when creating an asbestos management plan. It can also help to protect property owners and managers from potential liability should asbestos-related issues arise.
Peace of mind
Having a professional asbestos survey conducted gives you the peace of mind that any potential risks will be properly handled. This reduces the likelihood of health problems or legal issues down the line.
If asbestos is found in a commercial property, it is the responsibility of the owner or occupier to ensure that it is managed safely. An asbestos management survey can help you to work out what steps you might take.
Looking for a reliable, professional asbestos surveyor in Yorkshire? Get in touch to see how Robinsons Facilities Services can help.
Our team of highly accredited specialists covers North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and South Yorkshire.
Asbestos Survey FAQs
It is your responsibility to make sure there has been a survey or risk assessment carried out on older properties. However, if the property has been built in recent years it may not be a requirement.
HSE recommends that companies use surveyors accredited to standard BS EN ISO/IEC 17020 and that “competent” individuals carry out the asbestos survey, which can help you stick to your legal responsibilities.
This depends on where the asbestos is, and the nature of its condition as well as whether it has been disturbed, but it is always a good idea to get regular inspections. Every six months is a good benchmark for asbestos surveys.
If you do not construct an action plan and put it into practice for asbestos then there is a chance of a fine of up to £20,000 and even imprisonment in serious cases.
An asbestos register is a vital document that shows the asbestos containing materials, their location, maintenance, and other crucial details and updates, helping you to manage asbestos safety.
HSE sets the control limit at 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre of air (0.1 f/cm3). The control limit is not a ‘safe’ level so you should aim to get the level as low as physically possible in your workplace.
Asbestos removal work is very hazardous due to the larger quantities of fibres released during the work. It involves a lot of protective equipment and often companies need to close while the work is carried out. Workers who are removing asbestos need specific training and a high understanding of the substance and its hazards. An asbestos survey will tell you if you need asbestos to be removed.
The price of a professional asbestos survey will vary depending on a number of factors. These include the type of survey, the size and complexity of the building or property, and your location. In the UK, you can get an asbestos assessment for as little as £150 and up to several thousands of pounds.
Generally speaking, it’s necessary to conduct asbestos surveys as part of due diligence in the following situations:
- During a commercial real estate transaction
- Before demolishing or renovating a building
- After damage or suspected damage to a building after natural disasters
- After flooding or water damage, which may compromise the structure of the building