Asbestos was used widely in construction during the early 20th century right up until the 1970's when the health hazards of asbestos became widely recognised.
Today, we have legislation that requires us to manage the problem responsibly. It requires us to identify the duty holders and in certain circumstances carry out asbestos surveys to identify the risks and manage asbestos containing materials.
Identify your duty holders
A duty holder is anyone who has an obligation of any extent in relation to the maintenance or repairs of a premises – by contract or tenancy agreement.
It is the duty holder’s responsibility to identify asbestos containing materials (ACMs) and presumed ACMs in their premises, record their location and condition, undertake a risk assessment, prepare and implement a plan to manage the risks and ensure that the information is passed down to those who could come into contact with any ACMs.
The main aim is to manage the risk from ACMs in premises to make sure that no-one is exposed to asbestos fibres which might lead to ill health.
Any work required to be completed as a result of this management would be carried out using the standards set out in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
The duty holder may commission a survey to locate all of the asbestos containing materials and this must be made available to anyone that could be affected both employees and contractors.
It's important to understand the differences between the two types of survey and the duty-holder, building owner, employer and surveyor need to be clear on the type of survey needed, where the survey is needed, and what records should result.
The Management Survey purpose is required to manage asbestos containing materials (ACMs) during the normal occupation and use of premises. The duty-holder can make a Management Survey where the premises are simple and straightforward. Otherwise, a surveyor is needed.
A Management Survey aims to ensure that:
- nobody is harmed by the continuing presence of ACM in the premises or equipment
- that the ACM remain in good condition
- that nobody disturbs it accidentally
The Survey must locate ACM that could be damaged or disturbed by normal activities, by foreseeable maintenance, or by installing new equipment.
It involves minor intrusion and minor asbestos disturbance to make a Materials assessment. This shows the ability of ACM, if disturbed, to release fibres into the air. It guides the client, eg in prioritising any remedial work.
Refurbishment or demolition survey
The Refurbishment or demolition Survey is required where the premises, or part of it, need upgrading, refurbishment or demolition. The Survey does not need a record of the ACM condition. Normally, a surveyor is needed for Refurbishment or demolition Surveys.
A Refurbishment or demolition Survey aims to ensure that:
- nobody will be harmed by work on ACM in the premises or equipment
- such work will be done by the right contractor in the right way
The Survey must locate and identify all ACM before any structural work begins at a stated location or on stated equipment at the premises. It involves destructive inspection and asbestos disturbance. The area surveyed must be vacated, and certified ‘fit for reoccupation’ after the survey.
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