Asbestos Survey

Asbestos Survey: Generalities

The aim of the Asbestos Survey is to locate and assess risks from ‘asbestos containing materials’ (acm’s) in a given property.

The resulting survey can be put to a number of uses:

  1. To protect staff and visitors from potential exposure to airborne asbestos fibre by identifying those materials that may pose a risk to health.
  2. To provide information to visiting contractors such as electricians or plumbers who might otherwise unwittingly disturb acm’s.
  3. To prioritise those acm’s that need urgent attention from those that just need to be monitored.
  4. To be used as a ‘catalogue’ of acm’s for possible use by asbestos removal contractors or demolition contractors when tendering for an asbestos removal project.
  5. To be used as part of a due-diligence exercise to assess any liabilities pertaining to the building/business prior to sale or let.
  6. To fulfil the legal obligation to have assessed the property for asbestos hazards.

The 3 different types of Asbestos Survey

There are three types of Asbestos Survey;  a management survey, a refurbishment survey  and a demolition survey.

In loose terms, a management survey attempts to locate all acm’s that might be encountered during the normal day to day use of a building.  For example, asbestos wall panels or ceilings would be logged and sampled as would pipe lagging in a boiler-room, or vinyl floor tiles in a kitchen area.  What may not be included however are those materials that are beyond reasonable access such as very high ceilings, materials inside wall voids, under floors or (sometimes) in ceiling voids.

The result is that the client gets a register of acm’s helping them to ensure the safe day to day operation of their business.  The acm’s located will have a numerical  ‘risk factor’ attributed to them so that the client knows where the more relevant hazards are. No significant disturbance will have taken place during the survey and there will be minimal damage to the decorative order of the building.  Mostly, the survey can be carried out in an occupied property although there may be the occasional requirement to vacate an area during sampling.

By contrast, the refurbishment and demolition surveys set out to identify all acm’s in a building (or given area), both the accessible and inaccessible.  Slightly different approaches are taken depending on whether the building is to be refurbished or demolished.

The result is that the client gets a register of all* acm’s in the property which can be passed on to contractors who will develop a strategy and cost for removing all asbestos materials from the site prior to refurbishment or demolition.  There will, of necessity, have been a greater level of disturbance and more significant damage to the decorative order in order to locate them.  The survey should therefore not be carried out in an occupied building.

(all* may exclude intrusive investigations into certain structural elements like load bearing columns, beams or floor/ground slabs)

Hybrids and ‘2 Parters’

There are sometimes variations on a theme where the surveys are re-imagined to fit in with the specific requirements of the client.

A hybrid survey is sometimes undertaken where a client wants a general management survey of a site but requires more detailed information about one particular area where they have a refurbishment project in mind.  In this case a refurbishment and demolition survey is undertaken to that specific area and a general management survey is carried out to the rest of the site.

A 2 parter survey is conducted where a client wants an overall feel for any asbestos problems while it is still occupied so that they have at least some information about potential asbestos liabilities before – perhaps – proceeding with a purchase or modernisation programme.  In which case a management survey is conducted initially and that information is fed back to the client who will then commission a refurbishment and demolition update later on when the building has been decanted.

What is involved in an asbestos survey?  Click here